Entrepreneurs from Pärnu, Estonia visited entrepreneurs in Liepaja for an exchange of experience. The Estonians were pleasantly surprised with new technological advancements, but the Latvians were able to find answers to questions and get advice.

The experience exchange took place under the international project “Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Countryside”, which is an initiative of association “Liepaja District Partnership” and the association “Rural partnership “Lielupe”” in cooperation with local action groups from Estonia and Finland.

A part of the initiative are also experience exchange trips and individual experience visits between Latvian, Estonian and Finnish local entrepreneurs. Last week, Estonian entrepreneurs Karmo and Veronika Haasi who specialize in rural tourism and the production of sider, champagne and other drinks; Katrina and Mart Rumets who grow vegetables and offer hotel and conference room services, as well as various types of soil, substrate production, garden and landscape design, green zone, garden and graveyard maintenance were visiting the Latvian countryside. Katrina Kulla works with the production of herbal teas and home-made wine, organizing events and training courses in marketing.

The Estonians gained new ideas, skills and contacts near Liepaja by visiting 4 entrepreneurs. The owner of SIA “Zoovilla” Zane Gusta introduced them to her business which works in three main production areas – “Lavender Toys”, “Lavender Villa” and “Lavender Taste” – which represent the cultivation of lavender, providing courses, the production of designer toys with lavender blossom filling, a guest house and conference room for rent, as well as home-made lavender products. “Perhaps the cooperation could manifest itself through providing new markets and new products, such as, for example, the production of lavender sider,” says Z. Gusta. The Estonian entrepreneurs were interested in this because in Estonia lavender isn’t as popular – only on a small, one-household scale. Another idea the entrepreneurs had is to create specific soil used for growing lavender seedlings. “It’s fascinating to look at your work from a different angle,” Z. Gusta said and agreed to take the advice and possible problem solutions from the Estonian guests. When it comes to problems, the entrepreneurs admitted that there is a demand for a skilled workforce because in a family business it is difficult to trust strangers and find trustworthy, hard-working employees. The owner of SIA “Zoovilla” is very happy about the meet-up and says: “I liked it, they liked it! These are new contacts and new friends.”

Evija Kopstale introduced the guests to SIA “Durbes veltes” which is a producer of eco-friendly canned goods and home-made wine, which is connected to SIA “Evi&Jo”. The Estonians were interested specifically in the wine making process. “A professional exchange. We discussed technology and the legislation of wine-making. Technology-wise, many things were new to them. I can say that Latvia is a step ahead in legislation. In the past few years, the Latvian Winegrower and Winemaker Society has worked hard to ensure that the normative acts for entrepreneurs are benevolent. For the Estonians, the bureaucratic burden is greater,” tells E. Kopstale. However, the Estonians have an advantage in putting a higher price on their produce, as well as there being a more patriotic attitude towards their own produce and they are more responsive to tourism.

Also, the Estonians visited Aizpute and got to know the wine making traditions of Martins Sants of the company “Aizputes vina daritava”, as well as to the municipality of Kalvene to meet the “Mednieki” house, the Association “Kurzemes vietejie produkti” which is taken care of by the Estonian Martins Samm. He grows strawberries, grapes, apples and provides rooms for leisure, small celebrations and events.

In the beginning of March, the Latvians and Estonians will meet again; that’s when the entrepreneurs from Liepaja will go to Estonia for an exchange of experience.

Kristine Timermane,

Newspaper “Kurzemes Vards”

(www.kurzemes-vards.lv)

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