The category "Supporting the Sustainable Transition" recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support the sustainable transition and support environmental aspects such as the circular economy, climate neutrality, clean energy, resource efficiency or biodiversity through, for example, sustainable skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.
Energy Cooperative WEnCoop by the Halkidiki Chamber and the Greek Association of Women Entrepreneurs – SEGE is the first energy community for women entrepreneurs in Greece. Their purpose is to develop female entrepreneurship whilst addressing energy poverty, promoting sustainability, and investigating how to produce and supply energy efficiently at a local and regional level. The cooperative operates a photovoltaic park; the energy produced is to be used in electromobility actions and free quantities are allocated to vulnerable population groups.
The president of SEGE and WEnCoop, Mrs. Lina Tsaltampasi replied to our question, adding that they “are very proud and we truly hope that more and more companies will grow up and make a remarkable and stunning difference in our world.”
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
Αs a representative of the SEGE, I had the honor to participate as a delegate all the years of the SME Assembly, so I was always aware of the EEPA awards. That is why I kept track of the National Announcements for applying for the Awards, in order to apply when we had a great idea that we believed was worth spreading. Moreover, after seeing all the great projects that had emerged throughout the years, which have been shaping our societies! This is what really motivated us to apply, in order to be part of this whole process and show our contribution to our society and entrepreneurship.
How did you prepare your application?
We prepared our application internally, which was a very simple process if someone considers that we are making complete project proposals for many years now. Of course, we had the assistance and guidance of the Greek Ministry of Development and Investment, when needed, as well as the support of our partner Halkidiki Chamber. The whole process was a delight for us, simply because all we did was imprint our idea, just reflect our truth.
What do you think made your application standout?
What we think made our application stand, was that it covered too many sensitive aspects of our society and economy. We ticked a lot of boxes! In particular, we not only dealt with the green transition but also reach and engage women, which are a very under-represented group in the European Green Economy, with just 3-4% of the Board Members of the Energy Cooperatives being women! So, we found a pioneering and unique way, which had never been done before, on how more special groups can be included and motivated, to be part of the Green Transition and Green Economy.
What was it like to win the award?
About the feeling of winning the award, I think it was obvious from our reaction. We expressed our excitement about winning the award because the whole process of our initiatives felt like climbing an iceberg. We overcame so many difficulties and disbeliefs, and suddenly now we are on top of this iceberg, enjoying the recognition of being ethically awarded. I do not think I can describe our feeling, we almost felt like winning an Oscar! As also my friends told me, maybe I need to win a few more awards, because it was the first time that I was speechless, which trust me, rarely happens to me!
How has winning the award impacted your work so far?
The impact on our work from winning the award, obviously are many proposals for collaboration, which we evaluated, we are working on them and developing them. But this award was so important for us, because it gave us the moral satisfaction that we are really on the right track, which gives us the motivation to want to try even harder for this project.
What are your plans for the future?
Apart from the technical aspect, that we want to complete the construction of the first 4 Megawatts (MWs), to complete the first stage of our investment, we want to educate more women and make them Partaker /or Part of the Green Economy. So, firstly we think about how we can reach more parts or classes of Greek society, and then how it can be multiplied at the European level. We already know that we have inspired a similar cooperative in Serbia and we also have been talking with women in Poland and Italy to share with them our “know-how”. But we also want to move to the next phase and see how we can engage more women in the Green Economy, even with green start-ups.
Why should others enter EEPA 2023? What advice would you give them?
First and foremost, we felt rewarded honorably by the thrill of succeeding. The feeling of your work being recognised is really important for me. Certainly, you bond more with your team, meaning that the whole team shares the joy and the feelings that come with this validation. There is a common feeling that comes out of all this, and certainly you count your impact, whether you win or not, where your idea and your project stands in the society and economy and how others perceive it. Because, naturally, a lot of us in our minds, we love our own projects because they're ours, but ultimately what counts is how they look to others. And of course, it doesn't mean that only the one who wins is the one who really has an impact. You start this process of comparing yourself, in a good way, and saying oh we did this, the others did that and then you become part of an international business interaction.
My advice is that if someone wants to apply, they should not rush to apply with a project that is not mature, because in this way, they might miss their chance to be winners of a year. Moreover, it is very important to have real measurable results when someone applies for the Awards. Whether they are winners or not, it is essential to have measurable results and to tick as many boxes as the awards committee asks for and not to be a one-dimensional work. Finally, find the right partners that will believe in you, like Halkidiki Chamber believed and supported us.
Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2022 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel.
You can also have a complete view of the EEPA 2022 winners here.
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