NAME: Lenka Puh
BACKGROUND: University degree
ACTION/SECTOR: Social entrepreneurship
POSITION: Owner of company Jazon, President of the Development Cooperative Etri
My Background and Career
I have established my own company Jazon in 1989, which is from very beginning focused on supplying organizations with material, which it needs in business processes, such as office supplies, stationery. We have also developed a lot of services in the field of preservation of documents. In 2005 we started employing people with different disabilities and from 2006 company Jazon is treated as a social enterprise. Because of global financial crisis in 2010 we have lost several key accounts, so to preserve jobs, we developed business model called Etri – development cooperative, which combines ecology, ergonomy and ethical economy. Till today the cooperative has been building community and growing. In this moment the cooperative comprises 6 legal entities which employ 63 people. In this last period, we have tripled the number of jobs created. We have also created jobs for individuals who were until recently completely excluded from the labor market (eg. individuals with Asperger’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, etc.).
My expertise is the field of ergonomics and work process, which I compiled in the process ergonomics and presented it abroad in 2011.
Since then, we have upgraded process ergonomics in many social innovations: from career rehabilitation, to approaches for the prevention of health in the workplace in a way that companies can at the same time lower their costs, meet certain law criteria and also realize their social responsibility.
We are among the pioneers of circular economy, since the company Jazon and Development Cooperative Etri are holders of several awards in this field.
Etri business model is in the form of green social franchise spreading across Slovenia. In this manner an inclusive society is being build, which contains a team of young managers.
I am convinced that no entrepreneur without a supportive environment can succeed. For me the key to my success was support from my family - father, mother, brothers and sisters - later husband and children.
Also, I would not have succeeded without the help of so-called '' patrons', the people who were in that moment caught up in a certain hierarchy, were employed in large enterprises, state-owned enterprises, but were too old to go on independent path and they have seen in us young people the potential, so they have gave us financial support.
At that time banks were very rigid - like now - it was not easy to get capital, so supportive environment of individuals who were willing to invest in you was absolutely crucial.
For me, my key skill is being innovative - I am innovator from the first second, perhaps even to the last. I always wanted to prove that I'm able to provide for myself and maybe also for few more. I wanted to prove that it is possible to create added value in the market and build future business. In business, it is vital that you don’t stop and wait for opportunities, but you continue to develop and search for new opportunities.
Hints & Tips
Personally, I think that each entrepreneur is an individual so special and different from others. In general, in Slovenia are not enough entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship in Slovenia was for some time perceived negatively, mainly because of the '' tycoons '' who destroyed some of good companies. It was forgotten that entrepreneurship is a good thing and is building a better society. For some time now, more socially recognized were managers, who managed enterprises of someone else and not entrepreneurs who build their own company.
Personally, I don’t know many women entrepreneurs. In Europe there are much more of them. Here a women entrepreneur is often, for example, already the wife of an entrepreneur. Realistically one can not really build a business, so quickly wife of entrepreneur becomes an entrepreneur.
Perhaps the reason is that women in a certain period of life step back and men come take the lead. It is also true, that success in business is perceived especially in financial terms, rather than trough the things that women like to measure - the number of children, nature conservation, satisfaction. Women need a safe environment where we can have a family. Even those women who are very good entrepreneurs do not like to directly expose themselves, unless it is really necessary for the company.