Over the years, Xamk has been coaching woman entrepreneurs and companies specialized in creative industries. Time4Help project offers tailor-made coaching for small peer groups that have been organized by woman entrepreneurs themselves.

Astuvansalmi rock paintings are regarded as one of the largest ones in Scandinavia. The paintings located in Ristiina, Mikkeli, are known for a hunting figure that is believed to portrait a hunting female figure holding a spear. Ristiina-based artist Anne Mäkeläinen got inspired by the figure in the beginning of the 1990s and developed an Astuvansalmi Amazon brand that combines an interartistic performance, art exhibition and jewellery art.

As a sole entrepreneur she has found herself support from Xamk international projects related to creative industries. She has attended projects coordinated by Kaija Villman and coached by Pekka Krook.

When Villman started Time4Help project, Mäkeläinen gathered together a group of women entrepreneurs and professionals who would benefit from joint couching for developing their travel- and culture-related products and services. Currently, Mäkeläinen is preparing an Astuvansalmi Amazon installation to be revealed at the end of 2021 close to Ristiina Rantatori by Lake Saimaa.

“It has been tiring and hard to try and apply for funding for art projects. Therefore, getting coaching and mental support are really important for coping. Kaija and Pekka have been very important people for me. So I gathered a Time4Help peer group to find out if we could develop experiental products together.”

Kallioniemi gets inspiration from history

Finnish professor Emil Setälä spent summers in Kallioniemi villa in Ristiina along with his wife Helmi Krohn, a writer and translator. Among other things, professor Setälä is known for the fact that he was only 15 years old when he wrote his first Finnish grammar book.

Otto and Irina Ravantti have been developing services for travelers in Kallioniemi for the past four years. The main building built in 1896 serves today as a restaurant that offers meals made of locally produced food ingredients. You can also find services for people coming by their own boats or attending boat trips organized by Kallioniemi. In addition, in the summer 2020 a small information desk called Rock Art Center Astuva was opened in a log building,

Irina Ravantti who worked earlier as a sole entrepreneur joined the Time4Help network after realizing that if she would always only count on the same support network she might miss some new perspectives.

“However, I thought that if the meetings would turn out to be just vain talk I would not remain. Previously I knew Anne´s art but other women and their roles in developing services for travelers were all new to me. Pekka Krook realized from his own experiences what I had gone through as a sole entrepreneur so it was possible to set up personal goals for myself with his help.”

Time4Help was personally very important at that point.

As a fruit from the Time4Help co-operation between Mäkeläinen and Ravanttis an art exhibition was opened in the villa restaurant and jewellery art was for sale at Rock Art Center Astuva in summer 2020. When Ravanttis organized at the end of the summer a fancy dinner at a floating fleet close to the rock paintings, the guests were greeted with Astuvansalmi Amazon performance organized by Mäkeläinen.

“This kind of co-operation would not have happened with Anne without our Time4Help group. We had time to learn to know each other during coaching sessions, we could speak openly and create confidence upon which we can build new things”, Irina says.

Astuvansalmi Amazons found their way to Kallioniemi

Irina Ravantti receives guests to Kallioniemi villa dressed in clothing that are a copy of the ones that Helmi Krohn used in her time. It is a matter of heart for her that no guest leaves Kallioniemi without hearing about how Helmi and Emil lived there and how important a role Kallioniemi had when Finland was in the process of becoming an independent state over one hundred years ago.

“Kallioniemi has been the cradle for the Finnish society, poetry, literature, music and culture in many ways. Emil Setälä, for example, signed the declaration of independence here in Kallioniemi. I usually tell various customer groups a little different stories. For school children I usually emphasize the meaning of respecting nature. Emil Setälä received an arms from Denmark stating that you need to work for important issues with all your strength even if the end result is insecure. That is a good motto.”

Corona spring 2020 brought insecurity also for Ravanttis. Finally, they decided that there is no alternative but to continue developing services.

Rock paintings brought people to Kallioniemi last summer.

“This is now the first autumn that there is not a lump in our throats and there is a little nest egg for next summer. We would also like to develop accommodation possibilities and expand boat tour services.”

Hopefully the meaning of rock paintings for tourism is understood here.

Networks give you strength to develop new ideas

Time4Help project offers each peer group six meetings during which the group visits each other´s companies. So Irina Ravantti´s group visited Valkea talo in Otava, Kaidan Kiho cabins in Ristiina and Kallioniemi. Time4Help groups also scan if companies would have ideas they could develop further in the form of new projects.

“We tried to find joint and concrete ideas and I believe that those ideas will mature with time.”

Support your local

A Time4Help peer group is formed when 5-6 women entrepreneurs and professionals decide to develop themselves and their services together. In the groups there are 45+ women who are entrepreneurs or professionals occupied in some other field.

“Groups can meet either online or face-to-face when possible. You only need a common, joint topic and interest for sharing and working together. The common goal can be, for example, a will to act and provide services together in your network. Or each participant can have a personal goal related to coping with work or promoting one´s career. When the topic is chosen, content for your coaching programme will be tailor-made and timetables for about five get-togethers will be chosen as well as a couch for facilitating workshops”, project manager Kaija Villman explains.

Over the years she has seen how working together and sharing thoughts can evolve in the way that it is easy to develop new services and products together.

“Also new skills like understanding the concept of service design can open new perspectives to entrepreneurship and work.”

Interviews for this article were made in early autumn 2020 by Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskanen who also took the photos and recorded video clips.