Credit: LPCC

Applications are now open for the tenth edition of the Entrepreneurial Woman Project (EWP), organised by the Luxembourg-Poland Chamber of Commerce (LPCC).

The EWP consists of a series of workshops which will take place this year on Saturdays 23 and 30 September, 7, 14 and 21 October and 11 November. The grand finale and award ceremony will take place on Monday 20 November 2023.

The workshops are open to English-speaking women of all nationalities and offer insight into the processes, challenges, risks and rewards of launching and running their own venture in Luxembourg.

The deadline to apply for this new edition is 30 June 2023. The programme costs €250 for LPCC members and €295 for non-members (this includes LPCC membership for 2023)., which is a media partner for this edition, had the opportunity to speak with EWP Project Manager Marta Andrzejewska about the evolution of LPCC's flagship project, the highlights and challenges over the past decade. Marta explained that "more than 200 female participants have come through the project" since the first edition in 2014.

Looking back, Marta noted that when she began organising the workshop, she asked herself "what else we could add to an already well set-up project to make it more valuable for the participants." She first focused on the programme and felt that this was "a perfect complement" to the programme offered by the House of Entrepreneurship. After approaching the latter and presenting the goals of the EWP, two representatives of the House of Entrepreneurship began "supporting the project by providing Business Model Canvas and Business Model training". Indeed, Marta highlighted that "the great strength of this project is the trainers, business practitioners operating in the Luxembourg market, who share both theoretical and practical knowledge."

She noted that last year's edition of the EWP was "special" because the project acquired a new partner who "sponsored 20 places for refugees from Ukraine".

Regarding the main challenges, she explained that "it was a big challenge to run the project [during] the time of COVID-19", adding that "restrictions were changing weekly, and these directly affected the organisation." She elaborated: "These were times of uncertainty, a high degree of caution and unpredictability."

Looking ahead to this anniversary edition and how it differs to previous years, Marta confirmed that the project is being opened up to other chambers of commerce in Luxembourg. Last year, the EWP partnered with the Luxembourg-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce "to support Ukrainian women coming to Luxembourg"; this year, the organisers decided "to establish cooperation with other chambers of commerce in the country", not least because the project is aimed at all English-speaking women, "not only Polish women living in Luxembourg" (despite LPCC leading the project). "Therefore, this year we are inviting other chambers of commerce to promote this project," Marta elaborated. "I firmly believe that together we can reach a wider audience with this project and give them the opportunity to make their dreams come true."

An "additional benefit" this year will be a three-hour training session dedicated to managing one's personal brand in business. "This topic will be discussed for the first time by us," said Marta, who added that she had been searching for experienced people in this area before finding Emilia Zakrzewska (PhD), a lecturer at the University of Warsaw who works as a Marketing and PR Director at ProService Finteco, and Dagmara Tarka, a psychologist and expert in public relations.

In terms of capacity, the EWP can accommodate up to 30 people this year at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Marta has encouraged all interested individuals to apply: "If you dream of working on your own terms in Luxembourg as an entrepreneur, you have an idea for a business or you don't know what you could create yet, but you are looking for such an option, because for various reasons you want to make a professional change in your life, or you already run a business in Luxembourg but you still feel that you would like to supplement your knowledge and enter the environment of women who think and feel the same as you, then this programme is for you."

Taking into account feedback for past editions, in terms of the value the EWP offers, Marta reiterated that participants had shown great appreciation for the trainers. "The women very much appreciated the way in which the knowledge was imparted, their availability and willingness to help even after the project ended. It is a unique value when you know that when you start there may be further questions and you know who you can go to for help. Priceless."

She added that the six weeks of "intensive training" prepare the participants to ultimately deliver a presentation about their business idea in front of their colleagues. They evaluate one another according to the criteria provided by the organisers. A vote then decides the three winners, who receive cash prizes: first prize is €3,000 (sponsored by AKD), second prize is €2,000 (ATOZ) and third prize is €1,000 (BSP).

"Every Saturday, I accompany the women in training and I notice the incredible energy, the confidence, the tremendous support that comes through in the meetings. These women have the opportunity to fearlessly share with each other the challenges they face, they are supportive of each other. They create a like-minded environment filled with wonderful, mutually driving energy," noted Marta, reflecting on her own EWP experience.

When asked where she hoped to see the EWP in the next five to ten years, she said: "I would like us to create a hub of mutually supportive business women in Luxembourg who learn from each other based on the lessons learned from what works and what does not work in Luxembourg."