What was the seed for what is now your food business?
I decided to undertake this new business as my mother, whom was owner of the business, had been close to retirement and I didn’t want the company to be permanently closed. Our company mainly deals with the cultivation of seasonal vegetables and the growing of olives. Over the years it has evolved more and more both in production techniques, the quantities produced, and produce quality.
To meet this growth, I have trained and specialized in the methods of producing and cultivating the crops most suited to my land. Since I took over, I have also purchased new tools and machinery to benefit the crop produce.
The company is located close to the centre of Livorno which is on the West Coast of Tuscany, Italy and intercepts city buyers who want fresh agricultural produce directly from the producer. Farm to fork is very important to our customers.
What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome or lesson you have learnt as a female food entrepreneur?
The first obstacle I faced was concerning finance for investment, I acquired my mother’s company but to have the title of ‘agricultural entrepreneur’ I wanted to grow in the direction of my bigger vision and had to buy more land.
In this process I have met many issues seeking and obtaining credit from banks. While the banks were unable to help me, I was also not entitled to European financing as I am not located in a disadvantaged area. So, for me and my company finance aid has been the biggest challenge.
What advice would you give to aspiring female food entrepreneurs?
- To be very informed about the commercial potential of the products that you want to offer.
- Do not be enchanted by commercial innovations but focus on traditional products: vegetables, oil, wine, cereals… Focus on what you have, the potential it can provide and become the expert in what you can offer. Rather than seeking for more external products.
If there had been (female entrepreneurial) training available to you before you set up your business would you have engaged with it? Did you do any training?
Certainly, it would have shortened my experience with challenges and helped me massively.
If you were interested in engaging with training/further training what areas would be of most interest to you?
I would love to have access to training courses on the company’s administrative management – it is one aspect that is difficult to learn and is essential for the success of my enterprise;
I self-thought myself in working with my produce however I would love to have access to training courses on soil management and methods for crop defense.