The winners of the first edition of EWA programme in Serbia
The first edition of the Empowering Women in Agrifood (EWA) programme in Serbia, organized by EIT Food in collaboration with Startit, concluded with an event at Startit Center Belgrade. During this event, participants showcased their solutions, and winners were announced and awarded. Grants in the amounts of €10,000 and €5,000 were presented to the victors. The recipients of the EWA programme in Serbia are Ana Nešić, founder of a platform facilitating the sale of products from small food producers to customers in larger cities, and Marija Ignjatović, pioneering the development of innovative dried fruit products.
Over the past six months, participants dedicated their efforts to developing their businesses with the assistance of mentors. Additionally, they attended training sessions in sales, marketing, and business development.
The EWA programme winners for 2023 were selected by an expert jury. The jury assessed participants' progress throughout the program, the sustainability and potential of their business models, and the positive societal and environmental impact anticipated from the implementation of their projects.
Ana Nešić, the founder of the Small Food Producers in Serbia platform, secured first place in the programme and was awarded a €10,000 grant. Her platform facilitates connections between small producers in rural areas of Serbia and buyers in larger cities. Presently, the platform boasts a user base of over 138,000 consumers and collaborates with more than 1,800 food producers.
"I have enjoyed the EWA programme for the past 6 months, primarily because of the wonderful and supportive community of women gathered in the programme. It was a pleasure to exchange ideas and discuss both work and life with them. On the other hand, the programme was the wind at my back to finally improve my business model, work out the ideas that are on the sidelines and start the way to improve my business, for the benefit of my community. I am grateful for the opportunity, effort and professionalism they gave us at Startit."
Marija Ignjatović, the founder of Baaro, secured second place in the programme and received a grant of €5,000. Baaro specializes in producing dried apple and pear products tailored for consumers with health issues like insulin resistance and diabetes. The products are crafted using an innovative dryer, operating as a closed system that consumes five times less electricity than a standard dryer and up to 20 times less than the lyophilization process.
"It is an exceptional privilege to be in a programme like this, for which I applied without expecting that through it I would receive so much quality knowledge, contacts and guidelines for further development. All the project participants have original ideas and I believe that each of them will be successful! The support I received means a lot to me because I plan to invest the funds in additional drying equipment, which will open the possibility for employment and empowerment of people with disabilities as an additional mission of my company."
The EWA (Empowering Women in Agrifood) programme took place this year not only in Serbia but also in 10 other European countries. All participants in the programme had the chance to network in person at the Women in Agrifood Summit, an international conference dedicated to women in agrifood, scheduled for December 1st in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Startit is a Belgrade-based, grass-root non-profit association established in 2010, with the mission to provide meaningful, deep support to Serbian youth and entrepreneurs, improving life and work with technology. SEE ICT is developing the startup ecosystem in Serbia to foster higher employment and economic growth. With a team of experienced staff, a network of more than 100 mentors, and 1000+ events and projects that reached more than 100,000 people from Serbia, SEE ICT has established itself as a preeminent hub for youth entrepreneurship, education, social activism, and networking.
Learn more about Startit on their web page.