Almost 90% of startup entrepreneurs both in Finland and globally are men. The lack of female entrepreneurship, the scarcity of women working in tech, and the treatment of women entrepreneurs in the startup scene are problematic issues in several countries. The general perception of startup entrepreneurs tends to be a vision of young men in colourful company hoodies.
Deep in the forests of South-East Finland, a determined female entrepreneur has been fighting this trend. The female-founded company Pomenia is based on the fairytale world created by Petronella Grahn from Pyhtää, Finland. Startup100 Finland recently chose Pomenia as Finland’s hottest startup.
Once Upon a Time There Was a Fairy Dreamland Named Pomenia
Petronella Grahn stands out from the crowds at startup events. She is a charismatic mother of six children hailing from a small town with a population of only 5300. Instead of participating in startup networking parties, Petronella prefers to work quietly at home with her computer. She gains strength and charges her emotional batteries by wandering in local forests with her children and swimming in the nearby lake.
“Pomenia is the fairytale dreamland I created. It originated in the stories I made up for my children at bedtime. Pomenia’s guiding idea is that everyone can be their very own magical creature. Today, Pomenia has grown to encompass fairytale clothing, interior decoration, fabrics, a mobile game, books, a fairy dust service, a board game and future animation projects,” Petronella said.
Petronella has no problem combining the roles of running a large family and being an entrepreneur. She is known as a vocal proponent of child-friendly policies – all while being known in the local business community as a tough, savvy negotiator of international business contracts.
Entrepreneurial Woman Power in the Forests of South-East Finland
Petronella and Pomenia are from the South-East of Finland, between Helsinki and the Russian border. The region is traditionally known for smokestack industry, big factories and Finland’s largest freight export harbour, all previous breeding grounds for a very macho, male-driven business culture.
Recently, local female entrepreneurship and leadership has seen unprecedented growth. Pomenia participated in Spring 2017 in the Levelup Startup Accelerator, run by a two-woman duo in neighbouring Kotka, Finland. The region’s Chamber of Commerce launched a popular women leader’s networking group and local women entrepreneurs hosted the 2018 annual summit of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Finland.
”It’s fantastic to see and be a part of the change in South-East Finland’s business culture. I feel the female-led Levelup Startup Accelerator demonstrated how there is now a local network of skillful professional women that is boosting entrepreneurship in the entire region.” Petronella stated.