Elisabet Miheludaki — an entrepreneur enpowering entrepreneurs
According to Elisabet, “you become an entrepreneur when you just decide to start doing something”, so we sat down with her to learn about her entrepreneurial journey, her current projects, and her vision for the future.
Elisabet was born in Helsinki, but grew up mainly in Greece; and with a Finnish mother and Greek father, an international awareness is in her blood. She earned a Master’s Degree in Conflict Studies from London School of Economics and Political Science. While researching the roots of conflicts in Sub-Saharan African countries she became passionate about finding solutions to address protracted enduring conflicts in a way that would be permanent.
Roots — Poverty and Conflict
Elisabet looked into the work of numerous organizations working to address conflicts in this area and concluded that the work of such organizations was not as positive as was thought in the long-term. She observed that they become too large and bureaucratic, losing sight of the problems they set out to solve. Lastly, noticing that those organizations often hired foreign experts and didn’t include enough local voices or make use of local expertise, she became passionate about “activating local solutions”.
Poverty, according to Elisabet, is a key contributing factor to conflict as it also leads to other underlying causes of conflict such as lack of education, inequality and lack of opportunities. She believes that innovative entrepreneurship (not just any entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurship that brings value to the society through the introduction of new solutions to pressing problems) might be a key to bring local people out of poverty and to the table to design solutions for their communities.
However, in order to do this, people need the right tools. Elisabet decided that she would propose a solution to that in an entrepreneurial way, by designing her own venture which would pair up people interested in working on the same field in Finland and Sub-Saharan African countries, based on the belief that both have a lot to offer to each other in terms of skillsets and market access.
When she returned to Helsinki in February 2017 after a stint in Greece for an EU Commission internship , Elisabet dove headlong into the development of her project. Originally dubbed as Empower Everyone, the venture began as a nonprofit platform where Africa entrepreneurs could connect to foreign talent to complement their own skills and develop their business concepts.
Numerous iterations later, the current working name for the project is Amplaffy (a combination of the words amplify and affy, meaning the extension of trust and hinting to its mission of increasing strength by bringing two sides together) which she’s decided to shape as a for-profit business providing startup founders and talents from different countries, focusing on Finland and Sub-Saharan African countries for now, a trusted and fun-to-use platform which would ultimately increase interactions and joint ventures between people around the world.
School of Startups
Elisabet first encountered The Shortcut at our My Startup Debut event in April and she was eager to learn more so she also signed up to attend School of Startups in May and June. She came to School of Startups to learn as much as possible and she attended more workshops and bootcamps than any other participant!
She says the “value of School of Startups doesn’t fit into words”, but that her most concrete learning from the programme was about the importance of validation — “I came out feeling very resolute about validating Amplaffy, before getting down to business, to ensure that my service will create real value”.
Connections and Collaboration
For Elisabet, School of Startups was also an opportunity to meet collaborators. Through Karolina Miller, CEO of Startup Sauna and one of our coaches during Business Ideation Weekend, she met Johannes Oula, the founder of a Kenyan edtech startup called M-Lesson. Johannes was in Helsinki attending the Startup Sauna accelerator with an SMS-based assessment service that helps parents understand the learning needs of their children in real time, enabling better collaboration with teachers and thus resulting in improved learning outcomes. . While Elisabet continues to validate and develop the concept for her business she will contribute part-time to M-Lesson.
When asked what advice she keeps in mind as a busy entrepreneur, Elisabet said she tries to keep persevering, maintaining focus on the bigger picture; and ensuring that the work she does is based in something tangible, not only assumptions and hope.
Sound advice for all aspiring entrepreneurs. Thanks for the insight, Elisabet, we are cheering you on!