How we met the future female founders of Estonia, Latvia and Sweden

Over the weekend of 22-24th of October, 85 girls in the age of 15 to 18 across Estonia🇪🇪, Latvia🇱🇻 and Sweden🇸🇪 started their journey in entrepreneurship with a hybrid Idea Garage event across three countries. Future female founders in international teams are now taking their business ideas forward in the Be the Future mentoring program with the aim to reach first sales in 6 months time.
The Idea Garage happened as a kick-off event for the Be the Future entrepreneurship program, in which the project partners Tartu Centre for Creative Industries, EMAX Sverige and Green Tech Cluster Latvia are supporting young female entrepreneurs in starting their own businesses already for the second season. The project is a collaboration across three countries and provides girls the opportunity to build an international team and network across Estonia, Latvia and Sweden - right from the very start.

Video bridge between Estonia and Sweden during the event kick-off as Garage48 host Mayri and EMAX host Mia are saying hello to each other.

On the one hand, Be the Future is a programme that encourages young women to take their initial steps into business. Yet on the other side, as a result of the kick-off event format and content quality, we experienced how the teams formed during the kick-off weekend surprised us with their professionalism. It was fantastic to see the deep focus the girls had in figuring out their business models and the high level of final pitches. I’m really glad we partnered with Garage48 as the Idea Garage format suited perfectly for our program kick-off event. I’m sure that the positively electric and life-affirming energy will accompany the project teams until the end of the program.

Karin Sepp
Project Manager for Be the Future
Incubation Manager at Tartu Centre for Creative Industries

Garage48 Empowering Women series got started nearly 10 years ago from the realization that there are not enough women in the technology and entrepreneurship sector, while they hold the potential to be excellent leaders and technology specialists. Almost a decade later the situation is moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go as currently still only 15% of startup founders in Estonia are women. That's why jumping on board this project as the kick-off event partner was an obvious choice!

Be the Future participants in Sweden, working on their business idea.

For Garage48 this event held a lot of firsts. Although the Empowering Women series got started in Estonia back in 2012, we’ve been holding recent events in the series in Ukraine and also been to Afghanistan and Kenya. Reaching Sweden and Latvia and 15-18 year old young women has been an exciting three times first-time experience, while it is excellent to be back where we started and meet the next generation of female leaders in our dear Estonia. Having the pleasure to spend this weekend with these inspired smart, empathetic and driven future female founders has only strengthened our passion for our beloved Empowering Women series and once again so strongly confirmed our belief that women belong to the entrepreneurship field.

Kadri Kõivik
COO of Garage48
Project Manager for Be the Future kick-off event

The whole project and the kick-off event are fully women empowered as the project partners and managers, inspirational speakers and coaches are all leading females in the startup sector.

Be the Future program has been initiated, brought to life and coached by Karin Sepp from Tartu Centre for Creative Industries in Estonia, Mia Carlen from EMAX Sverige in Sweden and Anete Grundberga from Green Tech Cluster Latvia.

All participants at the kick-off event got inspired by Merit Valdsalu & Single Earth, Anda Penka & Fermentful, Liza Eriksson & Clara Lidman & Redlocker and coached by Mayri Tiido from Garage48, Mariin Petoffer from DUX Studio, Liis Tiisvelt from iLLIMOR, Kaisa Hansen from Taltech Startup Centre, Hanna-Liis Remmelg from Tartu Science Park, Felicia Gillberg from STARTcentrum and Johanna Österling from EMAX.

Anda Penka sharing her story in creating Fermentful from Latvia.

The more than 30 business ideas pitched at the opening on Friday showed us the problems in the focus of our current youth  - sustainable fashion, climate change, mental health & health and women empowerement.

GOYA Jewelry Estonian team members presenting their final pitch at Sunday's finals.

Team formation with online means resulted in 18 international teams who started working on the following business ideas.

🙋‍♀️ 🌟 🙋‍♀️


A recycling app that makes getting rid of clothes easy and profitable.

GOYA Jewelry

Personalized and unique jewelry that the customer can compose herself.


Perfect training tights.

Minimalistic and fashionable phone bag for ultimate privacy.

Choosy Sandwich

A sandwich making stand in schools.

Fashion Forward

Recycled and eco-friendly bags in clothing.


Long lasting, high quality and environmentally friendly dog toys made from stripes of clothing, second hand ropes and by crocheting.


Upcycled tote bags with a minimalistic and unique design.

Feelings IO-box

Receive positive feelings and put away negative feelings in mysterious boxes that can be ordered to your home.


Refillable ink containers for pens.


Spreading awareness of violence against women.


Upcycled handbag.


Recycled & upcycled clothes.

Rolling Healthy

Healthy vending machines with plant-based food options for people with allergies, gluten and lactose intolerance.


Vegan soap for people with allergies and who value natural products.


Education platform to get educated and help others get educated.


Selling pins to donate money to “Suicide zero” to prevent suicides due to mental illness.

Creative Waste

Recycling old clothes with unique and fashionable designs to second hand items.

 🙋‍♀️ 🌟 🙋‍♀️

Estonia participants and coaches group photo after the finals of the kick-off event - ready to enter the 6-months mentoring program.

Now the mentoring pogram starts for all 18 teams, with the aim to reach their first sale through coaching and guidance, meetups and webinars during the next six months. Stay tuned at Be the Future Facebook and webpage.

Enjoy photos of the kick-off event - like, love and share to support our future female founders!

                                               #G48EMPOWHER        #BETHEFUTURE

The Be the Future project is financed by the EU Regional Development Fund under the Interreg Central Baltic 2014-2020 program.

About the author

kadri tiisvelt

Kadri is the COO of Garage48 with years of experience as a hackathon organizer and community builder. She loves to create and bring together supportive environments for starting entrepreneurs who wish to make their ideas into valuable services and products. 🌸

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