Empowering Women in Agrifood (EWA) is an EIT Food programme in Latvia implemented by Helve. The EWA mission is to “future proof” the food system, which includes building an inclusive and innovative community to foster innovation at all stages of business creation by supporting female entrepreneurs through education, network building, and dedicated programme resources.
Throughout the 6-month program coordinated simultaneously in 11 countries, the programme hosted 110 participants and business ideas, aiming to reduce gender inequality in the agriculture and food sector. By providing comprehensive consulting at an early stage of the business idea, EWA programme helps women set up and develop a sustainable agrifood business.
According to a June 2020 study commissioned by the European Union, entrepreneurship is a key driver of innovation and growth across society. While Europe is making steady progress towards these principles, women remain underrepresented and underfunded, even as an increasing number of European citizens express the desire to launch their own businesses.
Meet the cohort of EWA participants from Latvia in 2022:
Maija Tumanovska and her product – frozen purees of vegetables and fresh berries for faster food preparation for families and businesses. Her mentor throughout the program was Lāsma Bekina, Chairwoman of the Board at “Rītausma”.
Ieva Krole and her product – fibre-rich gummies containing birch bark extract facilitating daily intake of required doses of dietary fiber. Mentored by Ieva Treija, Founder and Manager at “Gemoss”.
Yulia Danilina and her product – a healthy and high-quality sprouted buckwheat snack under the brand "Griksi". Mentored by Laura Valtere, Junior partner at “Gateway&Partners”.
Kristine Irtisheva and her product – a humus solution "Humico" obtained from Latvian peat suitable for use with sprinkler systems. Mentored by Silva Dolmane, Export Manager at “Bioefekts”.
Santa Sologuba who produces plant-based cheese under her brand "Dár Zenis". Mentored by Enno Ence, Founder and Manager at “Milzu!”.
Ilze Laukalēja-Broka and her consumer and sensory science center “Baltic Senses” that provides consultancy and research services for food industry participants. Mentored by Elīna Novada, Founder and Manager at “Svaigi.lv”.
Edīte Ligere with her B2B offer in the alternative protein industry, offering ready-to-go or tailor-made product technology-adjusted to specific company's needs. Mentored by Lota Plezere, Product Manager at “Printify”.
Lienīte Litavniece who produces fruit, berry and vegetable powders to be used as a raw material in the production of further food products, as well as a spice and food additive. Mentored by Lāsma Ozola, Project manager at Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre.
Liena Kazāka with her smart meals that are natural, fair, plant based, protein and fiber rich and can be prepared quickly with the help of water or milk. Mentored by Alise Graci, Founder and Manager at “Musli”.
Edīte Šipko who runs an organic farm cultivating pumpkins, potatoes, cabbage, onions etc., and promotes agritourism. Mentored by Alma Bērziņa, Manager of a local cattle farm.
We thank all the program mentors who have dedicated their time, helping participants to develop their businesses and make significant progress throughout the programme.
“It has been inspiring to see these women developing leadership skills, business networks and ideas within this challenging industry. The EWA program's most valuable result has been the immense growth of the participants and their businesses thanks to a tailor-made approach and individual mentoring. It's a unique way to support women entrepreneurs by offering networking opportunities with like-minded and knowledgeable peers, both as participants, experts and mentors," tells Terēze Peipiņa, Helve Project Manager responsible for EWA coordination.
The program will conclude on November 30, 2022 with a pitching event at the Baltic Sustainability Awards Forum where participants will be showcasing their ideas they have been improving throughout the program. Read more about the pitching event in Baltic Sustainability Forum homepage: https://www.balticsustainabilityawards.eu/forum.
About EIT Food
EIT Food is the leading initiative in food innovation in Europe. It works to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trustworthy. It is one of eight innovation communities established by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an organisation which is independent of the EU and was created in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Learn more about EIT Food initiative in their webpage: EWA | Empowering Women in Agrifood | EIT Food.