82 women have taken part in a competition called “Mommy Businesses” which is being organised by the Citadele Bank and the magazine Mans Mazais. They are all women who launched a business while pregnant or before their child turned two years old. The results of the competition show that the young mothers are pursuing courageous and sustainable business ideas which serve their own welfare and that of the state.
Jury member Agnese Paegle is the head of the Corporate Services Directorate of the Citadele Bank, and she says that “the participants surprised us with their unique business ideas and with the ability of their companies to grow and develop. The products and services, which are offered by these companies, satisfy Latvia’s market needs and are also appropriate for exports. We see that the young mothers are active businesswomen. Many have their own company, and they are planning their time so that they can handle both family and business needs.”
“There are many positive examples of mothers who used the birth of their child as an encouragement to pursue their ideas in relation to businesses, education, self-training, various projects, or other processes which have gone beyond ideas and are being implemented in practice so that the mothers can support themselves in financial terms,” says the editor of Mans Mazais, Tīna Kempele.
The top prize in the competition, LVL 1,000 for the further development of the winner’s business, was presented by Citadele to Rita Stikāne. She owns SIA “BeBelv,” which runs private kindergartens, but also manufactures ecological thermal underwear for children.
Applications for the competition came from a variety of sectors, including manufacturing of products (22 applications), manufacturing and sale of apparel (16), provision of services (14), and provision of health and beauty services (10).
Citadele’s experience shows that there are far fewer female entrepreneurs than male businesspersons. More than two-third of those clients who are company owners and make use of the bank’s services are men (72% as opposed to 28%). The bank has found that those areas in which women work the most often are retailing (22% of all women who represent their company in relation to the bank), services (20%), wholesaling (9%), education (8%), and industry (8%).
“Women are interested in launching businesses to have a flexible working rhythm, but there are also other benefits,” says University of Latvia lecturer and sociologist Ilze Mileiko. “For instance, this means that other family members are brought into the child care process, which means that the child has closer relations with his or her father or grandfather. The business environment, in turn, because more feminine, and women who engage in business take into account the need of other women who want to harmonise their family and work life.”
Līvija Liepiņa, director of the Welfare Ministry’s Child and Family Policy Department says that “we are working on developing a family-friendly business movement which will help people to harmonise work and family life, reduce unemployment, and reduce the risk of poverty among families. A flexible work schedule and the ability to work at home will motivate young mothers to take care of their families, but also to pursue their own professional goals.”
The “Mommy Businesses” competition that was organised by Citadele and Mans Mazais ran from August 2011 and March 2012. As noted, it was open to women who launched a business while expecting or shortly after the birth of their child. Women were asked to submit a brief description of their business to the jury.
Citadele is local bank in Latvia that offers banking, financial and asset management services. Citadele Group is represented in the local Latvian market and 10 other countries. It is the only collaboration partner of American Express® in Latvia and Lithuania who is entitled to issue American Express credit cards. Citadele Bank’s vision is to become the most valuable local financial group in the Baltic States. Presently, 75% of its shares are owned by Privatization Agency and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development possesses 25% plus one of its shares.
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