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Why Women Count: Latvia - Born to be in Business
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Why Women Count: Latvia - Born to be in Business
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The Entrepreneurs
Vija Ancane runs her own bakery, shop, and bread museum in the rural village of Aglona, south of Latvia's capital Riga. It's one of 300 small and medium sized businesses to benefit from a new loan scheme started by Latvia's Land and Mortgage Bank to encourage more women to go into business.
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Camera: Uldis Millers, Aivars Dambekalns
Editor: Andris Zemītis
Music: Biruta Ozolina
Produced and Directed by Antra Cilinska
Production: Juris Podnieks Studio

Coordinated by tve.

Learn more about the series Why Women Count.

Series supported by Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Global Opportunities Fund (FCO), UN Population Fund, UNIFEM/UN Women, and Al Jazeera English.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Why Women Count
TITLE
Born to be in Business
VOICEOVER
The latest research in Latvia shows that in many walks of life, men and women are still not equal. The president of Latvia, Vaira-Vike Freiberga, tried to break the glass ceiling at an international level, when she stood for the post of UN secretary general in 2006. Forty-four percent of women here find it difficult to start up businesses. So, the Land and Mortgage Bank of Latvia had recently targeted support of businesses owned by women. This has been seen as a welcome opportunity.
JURIS CEBULIS [Mortgage and Land Bank of Latvia]
The total amount of money we have given out in loans is around 40 million Euros. More than 15 million of it has gone to businesses run by women -- around 300 projects altogether. For example, we find this is very important in the rural areas, where people are no longer working in agriculture and there are no jobs. Therefore this support has a social aspect as it provides new jobs. But it is clear as well that a person who has a natural talent for business must be given the opportunity to be in business, and there are a lot of women who should be in business. And, as it is sometimes harder for women to start their own businesses, we are very pleased to be able to help them.
VOICEOVER
People are leaving small towns and villages. They move to bigger cities or go abroad to earn more money. All this prevents rural development and harms the countryside. But with a loan from the Land and Mortgage bank, Vija Ancane has managed to start her own business in the quiet village of Aglona, 200 kilometers from the capital, Riga. She runs a bakery, a shop and a bread museum, which attracts a steady stream of tourists.
VIJA ANCANE
Please, come in. Sit down, please! Sit down, please! The Aglona bakery, which had existed for 30 years, was closed in 2000. I lost my job too. At that time, I had two teenage children. My eldest son was finishing school, but the youngest had just started. I had separated from my husband and I had to find a way to earn money. Besides, I felt that I wanted to have a business of my own. And now, now we have got this big loan from the bank. We are developing. We'll be able to have a hotel upstairs for the tourists. It will be a very traditional one; the only luxuries will be a shower and a toilet. The rest will be a straw mattress and some bedding and pillows filled with aromatic herbs. We started with a bakery. Then we opened the shop as well. This is our Latvian black bread, made of rye, prepared in the way our ancestors did, without any chemical additives. When I started my business, I had a lot of questions. And I have to say that it's the governmental departments and bureaucracy that can kill anyone. If you approach them with a simple question, "Please, explain this to me," they act as though they are superior. "Who are you? How dare you ask us?" I have experienced this. I have been in tears. And now I keep repeating that women should come together and solve their problems together. This is why we also set up a women's club, "Forget-me-nots" in Aglona.
VIJA ANCANE
When I have guests from abroad or from Riga they are never concerned by the price of my bread -- it costs 70 cents. But when the local people come, they say that they can afford to buy it only once a week, just after payday -- after they get their salary, the pension or their child benefit. We don't have large salaries. I know that my workers deserve much higher salaries, but life is tough. I have to count each and every cent now. My biggest dream is that one day I will become the real owner of this house. And I am sure that one day, this will happen.
VOICEOVER
Vija's eldest son is at present working in Denmark. But next year he will be ready to come home to work with his mother.