After two intensive days, the best performers were awarded at the first entrepreneurship workshop of its kind in Lithuania. The winning ideas of the EWA Women’s Entrepreneurship Empowerment Camp Lithuania 2023 were Paulina Jonutė’s dairy farm start-up, Ugnė Dirdaitė’s plant-based sorghum drink, and Inga Matulytė’s dragee candies made from pomace. Eleven mentors, well-known professionals in the world of science, innovation, and business, helped the ten women clarify the direction of their business or improve the business they were already setting up in an area of importance for Lithuania.

The project benefits more than just the participants

The event in Birštonas was organized by the cluster and the digital innovation hub AgriFood Lithuania DIH. Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė, CEO of the company and event patron, believes that boosting women’s leadership in our country should not only be a goal, but also a requirement in order to contribute to the country’s overall progress and prosperity.

“Of course, this requires effective solutions in many aspects. However, many years of experience in analyzing the situation in the sector and looking at international practices leave no doubt that initiatives such as this one provide women with very powerful tools. By using them, innovative, ambitious, hard-working, and promising women leaders contribute to the sustainable development of the agri-food sector,” emphasizes the agrifood sector expert.

The cluster and the digital innovation center AgriFood Lithuania DIH also coordinated the EIT Food-supported international program EWA in Lithuania between 2021 and 2022, which promotes the potential of entrepreneurial women to create innovations that change the agrifood sector. Following its strong performance, this year the company was awarded the right to organize the Women in AgrifFood Summit 2023, the largest gathering of women agri-food leaders from across Europe.


Mentors were convinced by women’s potential

The competent jury, after counting the participants’ evaluation scores, decided to award cash prizes of EUR 500 each to young and promising budding entrepreneurs: Paulina Jonutė, who is nurturing a start-up dairy farm in Jonučiai, Ugna Dirdaitė, who is developing a plant-based drink made from sorghum, and Inga Matulytė, who is developing an idea for pomace-based dragee sweets business. Gift baskets provided by the sponsors went to each participant of the entrepreneurship workshop.

Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė is thrilled that this one-of-a-kind event was even more successful than anticipated. From the beginning of the first day until the very end, the participants demonstrated vigor and drive to learn relevant information, participate in group discussions, and perform their best during practical exercises.

“Once again, I thank everyone for their interest and commitment, which reinforces my optimism about the future of women in the Lithuanian agrifood sector. To the mentors, for their very open sharing of essential lessons on how to develop start-ups: starting with the need to be responsible in attracting investment, not to compromise on quality and to discover the uniqueness of a product or service,” says the event’s founder, patron and one of the mentors.


More parts of the recipe for startup success were highlighted

Mentors also highlighted listening to customers’ and partners’ comments and observations, which helps to maximize product development.

Augustas Alešiūnas, a professional in Agromaist’s digital innovation and start-up ecosystem, reminded all the participants that when creating or developing your idea, you should not forget that it is first and foremost a business. And a successful business is always based on analytics – it is necessary to monitor and evaluate sales figures, revenues, and costs and make appropriate decisions.

Karolis Sankauskas, owner of Projektavimo sprendimai with more than 17 years of experience in the design market, an investor, and a lecturer, pointed out the incredible courage of all entrepreneurial participants to believe in their own ideas and not to be afraid to be wrong:

“This, in my opinion, is still a fundamental criterion to be an innovator in any professional niche. 

Finally, the participants in the entrepreneurship workshop heard a reminder from their mentors to expand partnerships – people and their relationships are always at the heart of business.

Diana Tatarūnaitė-Zubenienė, Head of the Lithuanian branch of DOJUS agro and Commercial Director of DOJUS group; Jolanta Kuzmienė, Director of Varėnos pienelis, who has many years of experience in the agrifood sector; Dr. Deividas Soloveičik, Partner of the law firm Cobalt and Head of the Public Procurement practice group; and many others have been assisting in strengthening the start-up’s set of skills and qualities.