In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship and digital innovation, „Empowering Women: From Side Hustles to Entrepreneurship“ dives into an enlightening dialogue with Meliisa Palipea-Tasker, the PR and Community Manager at e-Residency. This interview explores the pioneering journey of e-Residency, a program launched by the Estonian Government to empower global entrepreneurs. We delve into the unique ways digital infrastructure supports women in overcoming traditional barriers and how e-Residency catalyzes the transformation of side hustles into sustainable businesses.
Meliisa offers profound insights into the intersection of digital advancement and female entrepreneurship, shedding light on the flexibility, inclusivity, and empowerment that digital tools and identity provide. From discussing practical business needs in a digital age to sharing the success story of Kirsten Meisinger, who leveraged e-Residency to scale her business, this interview is a testament to the innovative spirit and resilience of women entrepreneurs globally.
As we uncover the strategies, wisdom, and advice pivotal for women embarking on their entrepreneurial journeys, this conversation is not just about the narrative of success; it’s about fostering a supportive community and enabling a future where digital empowerment is accessible to all. Join us as we uncover these stories of transformation and empowerment in the digital realm.
GDW: Meliisa, could you share the journey of e-Residency? What was the inspiration behind it & the key turning points?
Meliisa: On December 1, 2014, the Estonian Government introduced the world’s pioneering e-Residency program. This initiative aims to grant non-residents secure access to the nation’s public e-services, fostering cross-border entrepreneurship. Estonia’s launch of e-Residency uniquely positioned it as the sole country globally providing a fully digital, borderless solution for entrepreneurship. The programme equips individuals with a contemporary toolkit to initiate and manage an international business that transcends geographical limitations, minimizing bureaucratic hurdles and maximizing efficiency. The foundation for this lies in Estonia’s digitization of state administration, accessible to its citizens and residents for over two decades already.
GDW: How does the digital infrastructure provided by e-residency complement the unique challenges faced by women in starting and running a business?
Women often juggle multiple responsibilities, including family commitments. E-residency allows entrepreneurs to manage their businesses remotely, providing the flexibility needed to balance professional and personal duties. This is particularly beneficial for women who may need to work from various locations.
E-Residency opens doors to a global marketplace. Women entrepreneurs can tap into international markets without the need for a physical presence. This is advantageous for those facing limitations due to geographical constraints or seeking to overcome traditional barriers in reaching a broader audience.
E-Residency’s digital infrastructure addresses the unique challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship by offering flexibility, reducing bureaucratic barriers, facilitating global market access, fostering community support, and promoting equal opportunities. This creates an environment where women can thrive and succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
GDW: Estonia’s digital advancements are unparalleled. How has this digital landscape empowered the work of your organization, and in what ways do you believe digital tools and e-Residency specifically can help women in scaling their side hustles into sustainable businesses?
E-Residency is a key that provides access to Estonia’s business environment. It enables opening and running an EU business 100% online and with no bureaucracy, no matter where you are located. Since all the business administration is online and easy, it leaves more time to focus on important tasks. In the life of an entrepreneur, time is a real asset, especially when trying to keep a work-life balance and run a successful business at the same time. Women are often juggling a million things at a time, and if the business administration part is made simpler and faster, it will allow for more time to focus on growing the business. In addition, in Estonia, reinvested profits are not taxed, encouraging growth and scaling. This means you can keep investing your profits.
GDW: In your opinion, how significant is the role of digital identity and online business management in empowering women entrepreneurs?
Digital identity offers a secure and user-friendly platform for women to establish their online business presence. The ability to conduct cross-border business without the burden of physical paperwork, coupled with location independence, dismantles barriers and enhances freedom. Empowering women with the flexibility they need for family life, the capability to remotely manage a business is a significant advantage. Furthermore, the use of digital signatures contributes to saving the equivalent of one full workweek annually per working-age adult. Moreover, digital platforms often promote inclusivity, providing women entrepreneurs with equal opportunities to showcase their products and services. This can contribute to closing gender gaps in entrepreneurship and fostering economic independence.
GDW: How do you balance innovation with practical business needs in a constantly changing digital landscape?
One goal for innovation is to improve efficiency. This also applies for practical business needs. For example, for an e-resident, having access to Estonia’s digital infrastructure makes practical activities such as accounting or any other business administration faster. Notably, innovations like X-road, the groundbreaking technology behind Estonia’s globally unique interoperable ecosystem, result in significant time savings, equivalent to 1345 years of working time for Estonians annually. For example, it takes Estonians 3 minutes to declare taxes because it’s all online and prefilled, no need to visit a public office or fill forms.
GDW: Can you share a significant learning or a piece of wisdom you’ve gained through your experience as a woman in the digital business?
The strength of a supportive community and effective networking cannot be overstated. It not only facilitates knowledge exchange but also contributes to the empowerment of women in digital business. Building a network of professionals who understand the unique challenges and opportunities in the digital realm adds immeasurable value. Networking opens doors to collaboration, mentorship, and diverse perspectives.
GDW: Could you share a success story or case study of a female entrepreneur who leveraged e-residency to grow her business from a side hustle to a full-fledged company?
Kirsten Meisinger, a German entrepreneur based in Augsburg, Bavaria, exemplifies the transformative impact of Estonia’s e-residency program. Recognizing the potential of AI in online marketing, Kirsten founded SEO SEAL, an Estonian company, leveraging the program’s benefits. E-residency provided her with a global platform, streamlined operations, and a cost-effective business setup. Kirsten’s success story highlights the program’s ability to empower female entrepreneurs, fostering innovation, efficiency, and international competitiveness. Her commitment to Estonia’s digital business model, combined with strategic networking and support, showcases how the program not only facilitates entrepreneurial growth but also fosters a dynamic global business environment. Kirsten’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative potential of e-residency in propelling a side hustle into a thriving, globally competitive company.
GDW: What advice would you give to women who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey, particularly in leveraging digital platforms and e-residency for their ventures?
Consider e-Residency for its benefits of ease and opportunity. You can start slow, with low risk and low costs. It only costs 120 euros to apply for e-Residency, and 265 euros to register a company. You don’t need to do it all at once, commit as much as you are ready for and take it from there. Once you have a clearer vision, leverage digital platforms to establish and promote your brand. Create a professional website, utilize social media, and engage in online communities related to your business. A strong online presence enhances visibility and credibility. The community of e-residents can also be a great resource and support network, providing insights and mentorship.
GDW: How do you see the future of e-residency evolving, particularly in supporting and empowering more female entrepreneurs globally?
E-Residency actively showcases success stories of female entrepreneurs who have thrived through the programme. Highlighting these stories can serve as inspiration, demonstrate the possibilities, and encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship through digital means. Bringing more attention to these success stories, and bringing women entrepreneurs together in professional networking communities such as GWD, foster partnerships, knowledge sharing, and collaborative projects, promoting a sense of community and empowerment.