Ivanka Milenkovic, Director of Ekofungi

I empower young people to create their own business.

Why? I do this because entrepreneurship brings freedom, an end that is always more valuable than its required initial investments in the form of stress, time and money… this inherently means that profit is inevitable! However, how do you get to this freedom? A young company (nowadays also called a startup) is incredibly – and in my opinion unnecessarily – always associated in one way or another with the Information Technology (IT) sector.

It is as though a young company’s quality is tied to using IT…

Is this really true? IT is almost as important as a knife and a fork without which most people cannot eat a meal, in the same way that we can hardly imagine everyday life without contemporary communication technology. However, what function does IT have without context, in the sense of what use are a knife and a fork in front of an empty plate – we can only play with them while we wait for the plate to get full! With this metaphor I wish to say that young, creative and self-conscious people must overcome pressure and apply their knowledge in agri-preneurship without clichés and prejudice. Maybe one of the best examples of this hypothesis is mushroom cultivation, or in general any traditional process of food production or within the agricultural field.

Through a fresh approach and with contemporary knowledge, which is the first and most basic element in business planning, the young and motivated entrepreneur (with knowledge and motivation bringing forth innovation) can create their own startup on the basis of their interests and possibilities. Even on the foundations of centuries-old technology, like that which we use at Ekofungi. Creativity is not tied to modern technologies; creativity is proportional to knowledge, courage and demonstrated persistence. Creativity goes shoulder-to-shoulder with out of the box thinking that generates new modes of work, production and technology… activities that create the groundwork for a new business.

For example, applying the circular economy model in agriculture is a strong step forward and a serious possibility to create a more profitable production and, logically, to guarantee a better chance for a startup’s success. Of course, IT can also be a helpful and valuable addition to this picture… however, solid agri-processes applied within a circular economy model and yielding multiple sources of income will survive even without IT.