Digital entrepreneurship tools and support for women entrepreneurs

Case Study Bulgaria

 

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Digital entrepreneurship tools and support for women entrepreneurs | Tools für digitales Unternehmertum und Unterstützung für Unternehmerinnen | Инструменти за цифрово предприемачество и подкрепа за жени предприемачи | Alati za digitalno poduzetništvo i podrška poduzetnicama | Ψηφιακά εργαλεία επιχειρηματικότητας και υποστήριξη για γυναίκες επιχειρηματίες | Strumenti di imprenditorialità digitale e sostegno alle donne imprenditrici | Digitālās uzņēmējdarbības rīki un atbalsts sievietēm uzņēmējām | Інструменти цифрового підприємництва та підтримка жінок-підприємців

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Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

 

 

 

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Stanislava Pavlova

One of the examples in which digital technologies help a lot for the start, establishment and development of an enterprise created and managed by a woman entrepreneur is that of Ms. Stanislava Pavlova. Ms Pavlova has been working in the field of pharmacy and cosmetics for more than 16 years. Her frequent trips to Africa and Asia helped her get acquainted with many local cosmetics and ingredients. The country she has been traveling to for 13 years – Ethiopia, has become her second home and each time she brings local ingredients from which she prepares cosmetics for her family and relatives according to Ethiopian recipes.

Concerned about her health and appearance, Ms. Pavlova decided to leave her corporate career and, together with a team of Bulgarian scientists who also developed products for NASA, began creating a new product. This is how the SHIMANI Smart series was born. The goal of the team formed by her was to create a highly effective innovative skin care product without harmful ingredients. Along with the SMART series, her team also creates a 100% natural product range that offers gentle care for dry and severely dehydrated skin.

The decision to start own business was made after considering the prospects for future development. In essence, in her work as an employee, Ms. Pavlova felt like an entrepreneur and had no doubt that she would successfully cope with the challenges of starting her own business.

Initially, her ideas were related to the establishment of a company for the export of Bulgarian food and cosmetics, but the encounter with a number of problems related to the storage and transport of food draws her attention to cosmetics, which is her passion as a woman. The export of cosmetic products from other manufacturers is also being reconsidered, so in November 2019 the decision to leave work and start creating its own cosmetic brand was taken.

Her wish is for the products of her own brand to be produced entirely with harmless ingredients, most of which she already knows from her work in Ethiopia, successfully combined with the technological solutions that the team of Bulgarian scientists has.

In March 2020, the first cosmetic products are already a fact and the plans for their implementation do not foresee the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and all the negative consequences on the known approaches to the promotion of a new cosmetic product. Trade fairs have been postponed or cancelled, travel opportunities are shrinking and this calls for the birth of a new business in an all-digital environment.

At the moment, Ms. Pavlova has neither the knowledge nor any experience in the use of digital tools, but her attention was drawn to the announcement of a course in digital marketing, from which she acquired initial knowledge and skills. Subsequently, she built on what she learned by participating in a series of conferences on digitalization of business and other courses on digital tools.

The pandemic that accompanies business start-ups is proving to be a major challenge for existing businesses, which also need to learn digital tools to adapt to new conditions.

Although the start-up (first sales) was made in an entirely digital environment, this is not so much an obstacle to business development, but rather a catalyst for more effective use of digital marketing tools. This is evidenced by the great recognition of the Shimani brand, both in Bulgaria and in the countries target markets.

Today, the entrepreneur takes full advantage of marketing opportunities provided by various digital social networks - Instagram, Tik-Tok, Facebook, LinkedIn. Of course, each of these networks has its advantages and limitations, which every entrepreneur should take into account, and which derive both from the rules of the network and from the characteristics of the audiences that use them.

The entrepreneur's two years of experience in digital marketing also proves the difference in the effectiveness of each network depending on the goals of marketing efforts - whether to increase the customer base or to establish contacts with potential business partners. Experience also shows differences in the popularity of individual social networks as an effect of the phase of the life cycle in which they are. For example, today Instagram and Facebook have passed the moment of their greatest popularity, while Tik-Tok and LinkedIn are on the rise, albeit in relation to different audiences.

The last two networks provide a great organic reach – some videos of the company in Tik-Tok enjoy 400-500 thousand views. The latter is also credited to the entrepreneur and the team of professionals she works with – for providing regular posts with quality content and intensive information sharing.

The approach with which Ms. Pavlova provides the necessary professional support in the use of digital tools is also interesting. Instead of hiring high-paid employees (corresponding to the required qualifications), it prefers to attract professional freelancers as partners to pay for specific tasks. One of these professionals is the owner of a digital agency, another - an advertising agency, etc.

The benefits of using digital tools are undeniable. They have not only made it possible to create the company as a completely online business, but also compared to competing companies allow to achieve significant sales at home and abroad with far less investment, less staff and less organizational and other permanent costs.

As for the overall business model, its main feature is the refusal to invest and maintain its own production base, and concentration of efforts on brand building and sales.

For the realization of this model, partnerships have been established with three independent manufacturers who have the necessary machines and installations for the production of Shimani products. This model is applied not only by small start-ups, but also by some of the big names in the cosmetics industry.

Previous experience in Asia and Africa also contributes to the successful marketing of products in foreign countries. In addition to a global view of international markets, this experience has given confidence to meet the challenges of starting a new business - the entrepreneur has witnessed the economic growth of a developing country – Ethiopia.

The company's growth plans do not envisage a change in the business model in terms of production and marketing, but they contain a new element - attracting an investor from the existing investment funds with interests in cosmetics. In addition to increasing the capital and hence the company's capacity to serve larger markets, such an investor is expected to acquire managerial and commercial know-how, as well as secure contracts with large retail chains.

As a woman, Ms. Stanislava Pavlova does not feel particularly difficult in her role as an entrepreneur. On the contrary, the fact that she is a woman helps her a lot in networking with other women entrepreneurs who, in addition to being customers of her products, help her promote these products among other women.

Her experience as a woman entrepreneur in Bulgaria is entirely positive in terms of the attitude of everyone she works with and partners with.

Of great importance for her success as a woman entrepreneur is the support of her family and in particular of her husband, who has not for a moment doubted her qualities as an entrepreneur.

Finally, evidence of the success of the company are the awards it received in the first year after the start:

·         On July 1, 2020, the Smart Skincare series won the prestigious two awards: Introduction of a new product and Innovations in dermatology and cosmetics of Business Lady Club Bulgaria.

·         On October 23, 2020, the company was awarded first place for "Most Successful Innovative Company" by the Innovation Council of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Last change: 12/29/22.