The project


Network of women entrepreneurs

Our vision is to create a network of women entrepreneurs around the Baltic Sea, a network that will expand to more women after the project period (August 1, 2011 – June 30, 2013). The network is based on communicating via Skype and Facebook to find business partners and exchange experiences.

Cultural heritage

The concept of cultural heritage differs from country to country. It will be discussed thoroughly by all involved. Promotion of the cultural heritage will be an essential part.

Life-long learning

Life-long learning of women in the countryside is important. The common issue is how to earn a living and to stay in the countryside. The project we will make use of women's creativity into entrepreneurship and this might need new solutions.

A model to promote more income

The challenge is to find new training (life-long learning) which attracts women in the countryside, i e training models which promote new income. The challenge in this project will also be to find partners around the Baltic Sea, partners for commercial exchange or other.


* Origin Resource Centre for Women Entrepreneurs, Gränna, Sweden (project co-ordinator)

* MTÜ PAIK (NGO Pandivere Development and Incubation Center), Tamsalu, Estonia

* ETNA, Estonia

* Agricultural University, Jelgava, Latvia

* LLSA, Farm Women’s Organisation, Latvia

The project is financed by:


In Estonia, Latvia and Sweden training have been elaborated by pilot courses with trainers and six women entrepreneurs or more. Each model has been adapted to the needs and conditions in the country. Women´s cultural heritage has been the joint theme, including also environment and tourism. Matters concerning entrepreneurship have been discussed, and women´s own situation and needs have been in focus. 

A network has been created in each country – taking part in training and study tours to the other countries. Maybe networking has been the most important tool for women to strengthen their business, sharing experiences, success and failures. Visiting women entrepreneurs in another country is, no doubt, very inspiring, engaging and learning, resulting in contacts over the borders, and, not least business contacts.

Continuation after the project

Contacts continue, both nationally and between countries (network and project leaders). More women entrepreneurs/key women or those interested are welcome and are presented on the homepage. The next step, which is long-term, is a tourism and business network, which means that the women will start designing tourism packages. We are also convinced that study tours, and not least the country´s own network, will continue.

Background/motivation for the project

“Women in the countryside who work with services, culture and handicraft as a business have difficulties to reach their customers, and thus do not earn enough for living. With long distances to one another, they lack networks and partners. Support is necessary to develop, but it takes time and resources to build up sustainable entrepreneurship off the main roads.”

“Women’s cultural heritage is a great potential for development. A new learning strategy/structure for women in the countryside is necessary to develop this concept further. Women in the countryside lack time, money and transport means. The concept will take into account the new social media, which favors women in the countryside.”

2011-08-01—2013-06-30. Cultural heritage of Women and Entrepreneurship, final report

Performed activities according to the project plan:

  1. *Pilot classes/networks of six or more women in each country

In Estonia 13 women, in Latvia 7 and in Sweden 20.

* Social media – Skype and Facebook

Skype and Facebook, has been used, facebook more and more as time goes. Two Facebook groups, one “Cultural heritage and entrepreneurship” and one “Estonia 2012”.


All networks members are listed with photos, contact information and description of their activity. This homepage is active after the project period. It contains information about the project.

* Training

In Estonian, Latvian and Swedish. Each country has its own material, adapted to the needs and conditions of the country. The material is basic, however it can be tailor-made to a group, i.e. it depends on the composition of women in the group how the material can be used. Each trainer has its own, it has been partly translated into English and partly spread to the others.

* Study tours

The Latvians have visited Estonia, the Estonians have visited Latvia and Sweden. The Swedes have visited Estonia.

* Work group meetings

One in Estonia, one in Riga to discuss joint questions/training material/budget/financing. A third work group meeting was held between Estonia and Latvia in Riga in combination with a study tour.

* Disseminating seminar

A disseminating seminar was held in Estonia, in Sweden it will take place to resource centres for women entrepreneurs.

Training material

  1. What was the joint platform?

To strengthen yourself as an entrepreneur, find income-generating activities  in the countryside. Women´s cultural heritage is an important tool.

  1. IT skills and language training (English), how (Face-book and other social media)

Of the pilot group/network participants many were active on Skype and Face-book from the start. The younger are more ready for Facebook and Skype.  This has been an efficient way, and cost-saving.

  1. *English, as language for communication. This has not been fully practiced. The study tours have proved very good for English practicing. After these visits many not-English speaking participants are ready to learn English.

  1. Culture as a tool for personal development and regional development

I will add transnational development.  The learning elements on study tours have been a very important supplement to learning in groups at home. When you meet colleagues over the borders you test your abilities in an international setting and are open for new ideas.

The women were encouraged to define their business in the context of ”cultural heritage”. They work with handicraft (traditional or modern), our food heritage, herbs, work in museums, soap-making, wollen products, sewing in leather, sheep breeding, nature guiding, cafés, bread-baking, associations of handicraft and cultural heritage movement. We tend more and more to use our traditional cultural heritage in a modern context.

  1. Environmental issues, nature as a tool for tourism

Womens’ concern in the countryside is very much related to the use of environmental friendly methods even if they do not say so. We experienced that we can work more with, for instance, building conservation, the nature and ecological farming and production.

  1. Length of learning/Number of meetings/follow-up/mentorship

Estonia has held monthly workshops. They all live and work in a region where it has been simple to meet without long travelling. These workshops have been in homes, the women have presented their business/ideas with feed-back from the others. In Estonia it has been a question of self-confidence and to learn to be proud of what you can do.

Latvia has held seven occasions according to a detailed plan and with homework in between. The participants have been members of Rural Women´s Organisation who are spread across Latvia. It has been one whole-day meeting, where all mentors were present. The homework is presented in a handbook.

Sweden has been working along two lines. One is training based on “personal development” and the other line is the network with entrepreneurs. Sweden has held one course day based on personal development, whereas the network has met and learnt from each other, mainly at study tour occasions.

* Joint training material and/or country training material

In Estonia it took some time to form a local network of entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs. Self-confidence has been important. The trainer formulated questions for discussion in the group, a model which worked out very well, and the result is a  strong local/regional network.

Latvia´s work in the project has resulted in a hand-book, where board members of Rural Women´s Organisation have been active. They had a plan in seven steps starting with description of cultural heritage, continued with an overview of cultural heritage in the local territory, thereafter discussing the idea to develop a business or expanding an existing business. This has resulted in a hand-book in which all have contributed with one chapter each.

Sweden’s approach to the training material has been to make training in “personal development”, which was performed in one-day course. The network, now with around 20 participants has developed co-operation between themselves, which has proved to be a very good way of training.

* Women’s cultural heritage

An enquiry to the network members can be summarised as follow:

“We have a mission to pass on the heritage from earlier generations, above all when it comes to farm culture, where the women were responsible for the whole chain of production such as food, clothes, gardening and not least the wellbeing of the domestic animals.”

In Estonia the training has focussed on the following issues:


  1. How can we market ourselves? The network? Can the network help you?

  2. Joint marketing – when and where and how?

New ideas:

  1. How can we find new ideas? Can we look for new ideas outside of our own region? Outside our “own boxes”?

Our own stories

  1. Making our own stories and presenting them to one another? To our network in Sweden and Latvia.

Group mentoring

  1. Listen to one another’s stories

  2. Sharing experiences

  3. Give each other feed-back

Traditional food and handicraft

  1. What traditional food do we prepare at home?

  2. Do we make use of our mothers’ knowledge?

  3. Handicraft traditions – women’s cultural heritage – can we see it in our professions and work?

Local and regional history

  1. We have collected local stories

  2. We have shared our parents and grandparents’ albums

  3. We have invented local and regional traditional buildings and building techniques

  4. We have discussed our traditions

  5. How can we collect old pictures from our region?

  6. How can we present them? At local fairs? Exhibitions in museum?

  7. Our mothers’ and grandmothers’ stories – how can we write them down?

Latvia has prepared a handbook as follows:

The base for the handbook has been the participants’ work, among other things around the following subjects:

  1. Cultural heritage within the country and its use in a touristic product

  2. Landscape and cultural heritage

  3. Handicraft and traditional food (i.e. felting, bread-baking, preservation of fruit and berries)

  4. Cultural heritage institutions, such as manor houses, museums, farms, etc.

Sweden has had the following focus:

  1. Develop your potential and find new goals in your life.

  2. To be an entrepreneur – the tool is yourself and your attitudes.

  3. To become your own leader – your own thoughts lead to new habits and actions.

  4. New values in a new society.

  5. Our regional identity – what does our own history tells us?

  6. Women’s culture as a tool for networking.

  7. How do I do? Plan for action.

  8. Where do I find my partners? What can we do?

  9. What can we do on our own after this course?

  10. What advisors/mentors do we have?  

Study tours to partner countries

(for detailed information see page ”2011- July 2013” on

January 27-31, 2012 - Latvians in Estonia

Theme: Exchange of experience between cultural heritage entrepreneur/potential entrepreneur in Latvia and Estonia. Discussions what we can learn from one another. Ideas, business exchange.

Places: Alatskivi, Lääne Viru County: Avinurme, Venevere, Väike-Maarja, Rakvere, Uudeküla, Pandivere region: Voivere, Avanduse, Kiltsi and Pikevere. Final discussions in Tamsalu at the PAIK office.

From Latvia: Videga Vitola, Inese Kurzemniece, Laima Indrike, Aiva Lielbarde, Ilze Stolere, Iveta Valieine and Edite Bevalde

From Estonia: Tiina Raudmäe, Merike Leichter, Ülle Vahtra, Anne Saar, Sirje Kivila, Marju Metsmann, Liivika Harjo, Reet Madla, Mairi Beilman, Jadru Kopso, Kaire Kiisk, Tiiu Maran and Reena Curphey

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia ; Birgitta Segerdahl, Sweden

Two work group meetings have been held one in Estonia, one in Latvia to discuss joint questions/training material/budget/financing report. A third work group meeting was held in combination with a study tour. 

May 18-21, 2012 - Estonians in Sweden

Theme: Strengthening the contacts between network participants in Estonia and Sweden

Places: Stockholm, Gränna region: Äng, Röttle, Berghem, Alboga, Landsjön, Aneby region: Vireda, Bälaryd, the Island of Visingsö, Tranås: Leader Sommenbygd office

From Estonia: Reena Curphey, Kaire Kiisk, Sirje Kivila, Kadri Kopso, Reet Maadla, Riiu Maran

From Sweden: Jenny Linnea Björck, Agneta Börjesson, Ann Edlund, Anette Forssander, Kerstin Gustafsson, Tina Johansson, Ria Kock, Madeleine Magnfält, Hélène Melin Geiger, Bodil Nordgren, Birgitta Tolf, Christina Vikhed

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia; Birgitta Segerdahl and Sonja Torstensson, Sweden

September 21-24, 2012 - Swedes in Estonia

Theme: Strengthening the network and learning more about how Estonia work with cultural heritage and entrepreneurship

Places: Tallinn Old Town, Viljandi, Väike-Maarja, Avanduse, Simuna, Salla, Emumägi, Vöivere

From Sweden: Ann Edlund, Kerstin Gustafsson, Tina Johansson, Helen Karlsson, Ria Kock, Madeleine Magnfält, Bodil Nordgren, Birgitta Tolf, Christina Vikhed and Maud Yngvesson

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia; Birgitta Segerdahl and Sonja Torstensson, Sweden

January 15-16, 2013- Estonians in Latvia

Theme: Study tour to cultural heritage entrepreneurs in Salacgriva and Limbazi. Discussions with Latvian network participants.

Places: Riga, Salacgriva, Limbazi

From Estonia: Sirje Kivila, Aina Ennus and Siiri Keär

From Latvia: Laima Indrike, Ineze Kurzemniece

Project leadership participation: Elle Allik and Sirje Vällman, Estonia

April 17-21, 2013 - Swedes in Estonia

Theme: Strengthening the network and discussions about cultural heritage and future contacts and work together.

Places: Tallinn Old Town, Wäike-Maarja, Narva, Toila, Avinurme, Pajusti, Rakvere and Kiltsi

From Sweden: Helen Karlsson, Bodil Nordgren, Marita Svensson, Christina Vikhed and Maud Yngvesson

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia; Birgitta Segerdahl and Sonja Torstensson, Sweden

April 23, 2012 - Work group meeting, Riga,

Purpose: To discuss differences in opinion between the project leadership in Sweden and Latvia about financial reporting.

Place: Hotel Radi u Draugi, Riga

Project leadership participation: Birgitta Segerdahl, Sweden; Sirje Vällman, Estonia; Baiba Rivza and Maiga Kruzmetra, Latvia

January 27, 2013 - Work group meeting, Riga

Purpose: To discuss differences in opinion about the project plan and activities as well as financial differences of opinion.

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia and Rasma Freimane, Latvia

Estonia. Kick-off meeting of project with project leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. fr left Birgitta Segerdahl, Sweden. Elle Allik and Sirje Wällman, Estonia, Sonja Torstensson, Sweden and Maiga Kruzmetra, Latvia. Baiba Rivza, Latvia is missing

Participants of the Estonian network at study tour in Sweden. fr left Kairi Kiisk, Reena Curphey, Tiiu Maran, Reet Madla, Elle Allik and Sirje Kivila. Here visit to café Kaffe & Kackel, Marita Svensson in center.

Frequent discussions in groups during the project. Here in Aneby Sweden with Estonian and Swedish network participants.

Kadri Kopso teaching how to bake Estonian bread. Learning from one another was one important tool in the project

May 23-27, 2013 - Estonians in Sweden

Theme: Strenghtening the network and discussions about cultural heritage and future contacts and work together.

Places: Stockholm, Norrköping, Aneby, Vireda, Huskvarna (Smedbyn, Brunstorps gård), Landsjön and Bälaryd (baking course by Kadri Kopso)

From Estonia:  Kadri Kopso, Riina Lukman

From Sweden: Anette Forssander, Hélèn Melin Geiger, Helen Karlsson, Ria Kock, Madelene Magnfält, Bodil Nordgren, Marita Svensson,  Christina Vikhed, Maud Yngvesson

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia; Birgitta Segerdahl and Sonja Torstensson, Sweden

August 15-17, 2011 - Work group meeting, Estonia

Purpose: Kick-off meeting of the project and strengthening the project leadership between our three countries and also learning about cultural heritage of the region.

Project leadership participation: Sirje Vällman and Elle Allik, Estonia; Maiga Kruzmetra, Latvia; Birgitta Segerdahl and Sonja Torstensson, -sweden