Digital entrepreneurship tools and support for women entrepreneurs

Case Study Croatia

 

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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

 

 

 

| AT | BG | HR | GR | IT | LV | UA |

Ines Poljak Aritonović

Ines Poljak Aritonović started her entrepreneurial venture in 2015. After working many years in a travel agency, she quit and decided to start her own travel agency, Konture.

The travel agency in which she was employed before founding her own agency worked with local suppliers for foreign tour operators. Ines was in charge of Brazil, as well as other American countries, and she was mostly involved in the luxury tourism segment.

Her formal education, double major in Portuguese and art history, was a good springboard for a job in tourism. During her schooling, she started working as a tour escort, and then, through the Erasmus Mundus programme, she completed a master’s degree in Cultural Landscape Management, which took place in three countries France, Italy and Germany. After graduating she worked for 6 months at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris. All this knowledge, experience of living in foreign countries, and actively speaking six languages were an excellent basis for both her business and entrepreneurial development in tourism.

When she founded the agency, she ran and operated the business on her own. She decided to position herself on the B2B market, which was difficult, given that she did not have any initial financial resources other than the Croatian Employment Service’s self-employment incentives, which at the time amounted to around EUR 5,000.

She attended trade fairs around the world to establish contacts with foreign clients. Since she had no money for hotels abroad, she often stayed with friends she met during her studies or used couch surfing.

Initially, her agency worked exclusively in the B2B market, as a local supplier to foreign agencies. Her main markets were the United States, Canada, Latin America, Taiwan and Singapore, and some of the closer ones were Turkey, Great Britain, France and Spain. In order for her business to succeed, she had to organise a network of partners and suppliers.

As the business grew, so did the need to hire other employees. She managed to attract quality professionals who previously worked in high positions in large tourism companies in Croatia. She realised that flexibility and family time were extremely important to women she wanted to recruit for her team, and that is what she offered them.  

Ines herself knows best what it means to connect work and parenthood. She gave birth to a child at a crucial stage of the company’s growth and took the baby everywhere with her. A small baby, family and work at the same time were a significant challenge in the early stages of the company’s development. But still, the global pandemic was one of the bigger challenges.

All the money invested in the business was thrown to the wind – some business partners died, some companies failed, and if companies did not fail, key people with whom they had a relationship full of trust left. “From the flagship of the industry, we have become social cases,” says Ines. 

Due to significant restrictions in foreign travel, Ines turned to the domestic market. After the closure of the borders, she realised how much potential and interest there is in innovative programmes and quality service within Croatia. She used social networks as a key channel in communicating with potential markets. Domestic customers were surprised by her personal approach, speed and flexibility, and in the B2C market, which was completely new for her, she managed to achieve 40% of the total turnover from the record 2019 from traditional international markets.

Her agency now offers weekend arrangements, such as wine & wellness getaways, family weekends, tailor-made summer and winter holidays. Their speciality is that they tailor the offer according to the needs, wishes and the budget of the client. 

Confirmation that they did well in the time of pandemic in which tourism is one of the most affected industries came through the award that Ines received for agency employee of the year within the event Days of Croatian Tourism of the Croatian Tourist Board.

In five years, Ines sees herself as a successful entrepreneur in the same business, although she claims that it is better that she did not know what awaits her during her entrepreneurial journey because she would have probably given up.

During company development, she used numerous sources of free online education, and this year she decided to attend additional training whose important component is the topic of digital transformation, the implementation of which she considers necessary for survival and competitiveness in the market.

 


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Last change: 12/29/22.