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Monday 28.05.2018 | Name days: Vilhelms, Vilis

Businesswoman: private investors don't do charity

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Private investors are always investing in ideas they can make profit from, they don’t do charity, Aiva Viksna, businesswoman and union Līdere (Leader) Board Chairwoman, told in an interview to the business news portal BNN.

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Union "Leader" Board Chairwoman Aiva Viksna

Similarly, she also stresses the growing role of women in business environment and explains laws of nature dominate in business, but one must collaborate with competitors, rather than fight or imitate them. She believes new niches are necessary to move forward successfully.


Why are so many women taking up business nowadays, have they lost their faith in men as breadwinners?

No, that is not the reason. There are still many families in Latvia with men as the main providers. It seems to me women themselves have dared become braver and launch businesses, instead of being someone else’s employees. The tendency shows employers are not offering new work places, which means a woman herself has to become an employer and give jobs to other people. Our «Women in Business» performance is the best in the whole European Union. Having made up 39.4% of the total number of business persons in 2009, the proportion is now approaching 50%. Of course, these are mostly small and miro size companies, currently in a boom of handicraft, eco-products, etc.

Why should women alongside their job also consider taking up a private business? Is this linked to pay differences between men and women?

These differences form 10 to 17%, which means two things. Firstly, it is not that they are paid less because of bad employers. There are also offers of new duties in an early stage of career women themselves refuse to undertake. Secondly, sometimes they do not even say they want to be paid the same as men. There are sectors where both the genders are paid equally, for example, retail and publishing. Our mentoring program shows women have long been dreaming of having their own company, which they usually establish after childbirth, because after the maternity leave they are not willing to return to the previous employer.

Are the results of the union Leader those of developing 72 existing companies and founding 25 new ones?

Yes, our mentoring programme achieved that. We accept 10 new entrepreneurs each year. The new programme to start off on April 8 is already full. The competition was tough – 50 applicants per 10 positions. Start-up businessmen willing to get advice and support are welcomed to apply to December programme. It is often that families – a husband and a wife – apply because they are launching a business together. We are going to compile the applications in December and then invite all of the applicants to more detailed interviews. We select mentors in March and in late March or April we introduce them to the business persons.

In what way is mentoring strong support in one’s way towards the goal?

The world has seen such programmes for decades already, it was a novice in only Latvia. When I started as a teacher of chemistry in 1991, sort of an advisor was teaching me how to conduct classes. The movement started off in the European Union in 1990s to show senior businessmen how useful they can be after ending their active business life by sharing their experience with new entrepreneurs. Also Nokia, Lattelecom and other companies are training the new staff this way. Our surveys suggest one third would not have started a business at all without a mentor’s advice and encouragement. Initially many lack numerous answers, neither do they have enough funds to employ private consultants, thus a mentor’s 5, 10, 15 or 20 years business experience is invaluable support. Mentors help start up actual business activities with less mistakes, so do they share their business contacts unselfishly.

So there is no use in following the cruel laws of nature in business?

That is also what our mentors say, they are more like psychologists than teachers, because a balance between the private life and business is crucial. There are the laws of nature in business, only the strongest survive, but one must collaborate with competitors, rather than fight or imitate them. New niches are necessary to move forward successfully.

When will «Business Angels» movement flourish in Latvia to provide capital for a business start-up?

We founded Private Investors Association in 2006 to promote business angels «movement». That is completely another topic, but sure there are investments. Co-financing is advisable when launching a business. Private investors or commercial banks do not provide start-up capital. There are good examples in Latvia, as private investors have free resources to invest in securities and deposits. There is a lack of convincing business ideas with yet the fiftieth social networking idea coming to us… «Business angels» are not naive, rich people with full bags of money. Sometimes people write us, «Please grant me 300 000 lats, a million or 50 million, it is not that big sum for you?!» Private investors are always investing in ideas they can make profit from. They do not do charity. A part of new businessmen do not need a private investor at all. They either find a powerful business partner or apply to The Mortgage and Land Bank of Latvia support programme ALTUM meant for start-up. In the third quarter of 2011 micro crediting of up to 3 000 lats will resume. Similarly, it will also be possible to attract Swiss financial instruments. There are also a number of competitions – Latvian Investment and Development Agency’s «Cup of Ideas», Riga City Council’s «Takeoff», ect. Private investors usually place their money in sustainable ideas and when there is already a business model in development, so that they can promote it by becoming co-owners.

Is the Latvian tax policy reasonable?

No, to be honest. Because businessmen’s warnings are turning into reality – tax rises bring less revenue to the state. One does not even have to go through books of economy to see that, because it was evident immediately. True, each and every state itself develops its own policy and strategy.


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  1. Andrew says:

    An interesting union and movement I should consider checking it out and maybe applying to some funds, yet I need a powerful idea – as all of us.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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