The Daring – winners of the competition presented

SOLIDARNA Foundation and IKEA Croatia awarded five financial grants and launched a mentoring program for women entrepreneurs.

The winners of the DARING Economic Empowerment Program, launched by IKEA in cooperation with the SOLIDARNA Foundation and the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development (HR PSOR), with the expert support of ACT Group, Apsolon, Erste, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Office of the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, were announced in Zagreb on Friday, July 3rd. 23 finalists were shortlisted from 138 submitted projects, and ultimately seven women’s entrepreneurial initiatives were selected, five of which will receive one-year financial support in the amount of  250,000 HRK (EUR 33,133.45), while all candidates will participate in a one-year mentoring program tailored to their needs.

“For IKEA, DARING represents a significant contribution to gender equality and strengthening the capacity and market position of women in entrepreneurship throughout Croatia, especially in areas with fewer development opportunities. Socially responsible investment in bold and innovative projects with a positive social and environmental footprint is a reflection of our global commitment to create a more equal society based on sustainable development,”said Hrvoje Dragušica, Sustainability Manager at IKEA Croatia.

Among the awarded projects is the social enterprise Sustainable Society from Gračac, founded by women from the local Prospero Association to train women in footwear production. With mentoring support and a donation from the DARING program, they will be able to purchase a machine and professional education. This will ensure the continuity of production and strengthen the sale of custom-made anatomical footwear, with the possibility of purchases from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, which is a sustainable market niche for this unique women’s production venture that creates new employment opportunities for women in Gračac.

The DARING donation also went to Fabijanović craft from Brač, owned by a mother and daughter team, as support for the certification of business processes and market placement of the unique women’s island product: protective equipment for cots and a wide range of baby bedding under the brand Dada&Rocco. “With the support of DARING, the development of business processes will empower women who came to us without qualifications to work in the textile industry. In addition to their previous training to work on machines, they will adopt new work and production processes and thus gain new knowledge and strengthen their skills”, said Simona Fabijanović and Danira Glavinić, the originator of this innovative domestic women’s brand on the rise.

Thanks to a donation from the DARING program, Organica Vita craft from the village of Čađavice in Virovitica-Podravina County will increase the efficiency and competitiveness of its organic production and processing of medicinal plants and oilseeds. To achieve this, in the next 12 months they will strive to solve three major problems: the procurement of a new oil press, HACCP certification and the introduction of a system to monitor the eEye production in their own production facilities.

This year, the donation from the DARING program also went to the company Primitivance, which produces 100% natural cosmetics from raw materials that grow in the Dalmatian climate so that the next stages of product development can also be undertaken locally,  thus completing the sustainability cycle. The donation will support the development of two new products and the Belle de Jour mini selection with the support of the women’s pharmaceutical team from Ljubljana, all the way to marketing.

DARING will also financially support the online school for Croatian as a foreign language SpeakCRO by Cosmis Is j.d.o.o. from Zagreb, whose intention is to develop a digital platform with quality didactic materials, expand the scope of clients around the world and create two more well-paid jobs for female teachers. “With the mentoring support of DARING, we want to tackle the decentralization of business and learn how to lead a team and a growing company,” says Mateja Horvat, head of the online school SpeakCRO, the only one in the world.

Photo: Marina Škrabalo, SOLIDARNA Foundation and Andrijana Parić, Apsolon

The DARING mentor program will additionally include two interesting start-ups – the project “Biljkoborci” by the craft businesses “The two of them, again” and “Ćiri biri bajka” from Pixing craft from Zagreb, with a focus on developing business management capacity and strategic approaches to alternative sources of funding. The mentoring program will last throughout the year with the support of experts from associations, corporations and business advisors of the DARING program. Seven winners of the COURAGEOUS 2020 support will learn how to plan a business through the design thinking method, get opportunities for specialist consulting, personal development of leadership skills, and business networking and promotion. The introductory business planning workshop on July 3rd and 4th in Zagreb was led by Andrijana Parić from the company Apsolon, while the main mentor for the development of business plans was Ana Brigović from the ACT group. As part of the DARING project, the DARING CONVERSATIONS will be launched, an online format for knowledge exchange intended for a wide range of women entrepreneurs throughout Croatia, aimed at creating resilience to business challenges, but also opportunities brought by the current crisis.

The DARING project was launched on December 10th, 2018 with the goal of providing professional and financial support for women entrepreneurs. To date, 13 entrepreneurial initiatives have received support through the DARING program – ten financial support, two mentoring support, while a supply contract has been signed with the social enterprise Fierce Women, creator of playing cards that celebrate women’s contributions to humanity. All proceeds from the sale of the cards will be donated by IKEA to the DARING competition. Until recently, the playing cards were available in English only,  so IKEA also financed the production of a Croatian version of the playing cards which is sold exclusively at the Zagreb IKEA store.

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