The project “Žaliakalnis Entrepreneurship Training” was started by training, research and consulting company “POKYČIŲ VALDYMAS”, VšĮ “Kaunas IN” and Marvelė Community Centre. Since June, 40 Žaliakalnis residents participated in ten programs. According to Tomas Vasiliauskas, the head of the company “POKYČIŲ VALDYMAS”, professional consultants in innovation and entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, leadership, finance, and accounting shared their knowledge with the Žaliakalnis residents.
“Each participant completed 40 academic hours course of the general competencies and additionally selected other programs according to their needs, goals, and time. The age of participants ranges from 41 to 75 years. We met people with different experiences and expectations. I was delighted to see people that regardless of their age expect and want to start their own business, not just deepen the knowledge or satisfy their curiosity,” says Tomas Vasiliauskas.
The goal: to build a business and make a living
“My decision to come here was not born out of curiosity or the wish to start from scratch: I have been thinking about the business idea and goals for a long time, and in this program, I met a lot of people having the same motivation,” says 53-year-old Aurelija Jarmalienė from Žaliakalnis.
After working as a corporate lawyer for decades, at the age of 40 she decided to completely change her career and turn to the arts. Today Aurelija is a graduate of King Mindaugas Vocational Training Centre. She has finished the fine textile products manufacturer studies, sewing, and cutting as well as gardener and market-gardener studies.
“Over the next few years, I would like to do what I like and make a living out of it. I know that nowadays, almost everything can be found on the Internet and in books, but such a wandering without guidance and searching takes a long time. Also, nothing can replace live communication and guidance of the experts. So, for me, this entrepreneurship training has become a great way to get faster results and feedback.”
Although initially Aurelija was mostly interested in business plan development and bookkeeping, among the most useful subjects she also mentions business basics: “I really liked the lecture on creating a business map and I would say that it has changed my point of view: during the workshop we created our supposed business, tried to determine its target customers and find out their needs. Even though all these questions were not new to me and I had thought about them before, I did get a lot of useful insights and it helped me to clarify certain aspects. Now I know what I will need to focus on when setting up a real business plan.”
A big family is like a small business
Zigmantas Neverauskas, a 46-year-old resident of Žaliakalnis finished applied ceramics studies in Vilnius Academy of Arts and for a long time worked on the basis of orders and produced pottery. Today, as he says, he works as the father of four children and his wife’s husband. The reason why he was interested in the entrepreneurship training program was that he did not have a paid job at that moment, and he was curious and eager to learn by nature.
“Why do I need such studies? I have seen a lot of different courses on the Internet, I have certain knowledge, but I still do not earn money from it. So, I wanted to try out live courses of a similar kind. Right from the start, after completing the tests, I found out what kind of job I want, what conditions I need and what kind of staff I would like to work with. We received manuals of up to 50 pages for each topic, which was pleasantly surprising and extremely convenient. Not to mention the charismatic lecturers – experts in their field! The days were over in the blink of an eye,” Zigmantas shares his impressions.
According to him, it would be difficult to single out a program or theme: all of them proved to be interesting and useful.
“For example, I chose the business plan development course because I was self-employed, working under a business license. However, I was convinced that such planning can be applied not only in business but also in the family. A large family is the same as a small business. Now I can teach my children how to stand on their own feet firmly and earn money,” says the father of a large family.
According to Zigmantas, during the presentation of the project ideas and discussion about positive and negative sides of business, there was no one who would find being someone’s employee more attractive than having a business: “All colleagues in the group were in favour of the opportunity to start their own business, because everyone has gained knowledge, at least for the start.”
Not just fellow students, but like-minded people
So far, a 43-year-old Rasa Stanionytė has been working in the field of sales, supply and statistical analysis of data. She says that this training program seemed attractive as an indirect opportunity to enter the labour market, but that was not all: a woman from Kaunas actively seeking for a job hopes that the acquired knowledge will bring her closer to the dream of owning her own business.
“Although I have a lot of theoretical and practical knowledge, I tend to constantly deepen it. I think these courses gave me and other learners broad scope, we also have found like-minded people and that’s very important for a business. We also got more tools which will help us implement our ideas, evaluate them and then act. Finally, while being together, we were able to test our idea, its necessity, and novelty,” says Rasa.
According to her, during the training, she enjoyed working in small groups and appreciated the opportunity to learn with professional lecturers and fellow students.
“I would say that the groups were gathered extremely well: people were of similar age and had the same goals to start a business and work efficiently. Also, even those programs that initially seemed not that important were useful: for example, in my daily work, I already try to apply the advice that I got during the lectures about staff management,” Rasa shares her insights.
Even after the end of the program, fellow students intend to continue their communication in a Facebook group where they will share their future achievements as well as results and support each other.