Mitja Bitenc (Slovenia/Restaurant & Social entrepreneurship) and Vladimir Pavić (Croatia/Education & training services)

Vladimir Pavić (NE) & Mitja Bitenc (HE)

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Vladimir Pavić
Country: Croatia
Age: 56
Sector of activity: Education and training services
Did you already start your business? n
Name of business/website: Vallis Aurea Publishing & Education Center
What is your future business? VAEPC is a start-up youth center dedicated to sharing experience of self-transformation – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It would be the center for free-of-charge educational activities for youth.

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & surname: Mitja Bitenc
Country: Slovenia
Sector of activity: Hotel, restaurant, tourism, travel services
Experience in running a business (in years): 8
Name of business/website: Radha Govinda Restaurant http://radhagovinda.si/
What is your business? A self-service vegetarian restaurant with affinity for social entrepreneurship, healthy cooking, specialised in vegan, organic, healthy and tasty cuisine.

Period of exchange: 05/10/2020 – 05/04/2021
Duration of exchange: 6 months

Can the innovative ideas of a New Entrepreneur provide support even during a global pandemic?

Vladimir Pavić (NE) made research in cooperation with Mitja Bitenc (HE) on plant-based menus and offers on market (restaurants, hotels, bars) furthermore NE learned how to develop strategies in the food/catering industry, cuisine workshops/courses with a focus on healthy food as well as personal chef events in cooperation with restaurants. NE started the book reading club. Due to extraordinary situation NE and HE made special online events and action-calls for example: started with special online events for fundraising for humanitarian projects. Both entrepreneurs also developed special doughnuts offers that helped with saving the restaurant in these difficult times in cooperation with “ehrana”. NE has learned a lot about social entrepreneurship, which helped him with improving his business plan for his social enterprise in Croatia.
Under HE’s mentorship, NE performed a number of activities. NE Vladimir was part of the team that distributed food surplus from the restaurant. NE co-organized distribution of free meals through Covid Emergency Response for people in need with local partners in Šiška like Caritas Šiška, FFL, Slovenska Filantropija, etc. NE also researched Ljubljana’s healthy restaurants market plant-based menus and offers on market (restaurants, hotels, bars), Slovenian spice and herbs market as well as healthy vegetables industry. The NE learned a lot about green cuisine at Radha Govinda Restaurant directly from HE and Radha Govinda’s team. NE also started a new project called: Reading Book Club at Radha Govinda Restaurant. NE’s work can be also seen on HE’s online shop: https://radhagovinda.si/?product_cat=zacimbe, where NE added a range of spice mixtures to the Radha Govinda online shop. Due to the covid-19 epidemy, HE changed the system of cooperation and has focused on online orders and takeaway delivery in line with standards of health and safety of NIJZ. NE has learned to use HE’s customer relations management tools and has used the web applications that have helped both NE and HE’s company.
The NE from Croatia gained a set of valuable soft and hard skills which are nowadays required to manage a small business efficiently. NE Vladimir started a successful Reading club, which was done mainly online. HE has together with NE combined new spices range for HE’s online shop by utilizing new customer relations management tools for that purpose. HE’s project response to Covid-19, with free takeaway lunches for persons in need in Ljubljana, where HE used the principle of food surplus – zero waste will be incorporated into NE’s business plan. Together NE and HE have started a special online event for fundraising for humanitarian projects, which is available here: https://www.facebook.com/Govindas.Ljubljana/photos/pcb.10163006150575297/10163006070660297/. NE helped HE with the special doughnuts offers that helped to save the restaurant in Covid-19 times in cooperation with “ehrana”: https://www.facebook.com/ehrana.si/photos/pcb.3845378398818490/3845367958819534/

Mitja Bitenc (HE): “As with hosting my previous NEs I wanted to offer to Vladimir the best of my entrepreneurial knowledge and know-how gained during all my years of being an entrepreneur. In these difficult COVID-19 period I had to survive as my restaurant was closed. So, Vladimir witnessed from me dos and do nots of running a restaurant in extraordinary circumstances and starting other business services like pasta production and sale. On the other hand, Vladimir was at that time of great support to me and I benefited from his resourcefulness, diligence, reliability and jovial spirit.”

Vladimir Pavić (NE): I am glad to say that my cooperation with my HE, Mr. Mitja Bitenc, the owner of two vegetarian restaurants in Ljubljana, was a win-win relationship due to supportive guidance of Act group and University of Primorska as Erasmus IOs. Our cooperation run smoothly despite of emergency situation caused by Covid-19 crisis. I have gained valuable insight into how complex restaurant management is. I am comforted that my mini-restaurant project will be smaller and easier to manage. I have learned some good ideas for marketing and attracting potential customers. I learned a dozen great recipes. Also, I learned how to decorate the interior to make guests feel comfortable and come back as customers.
It seems that the corona crises was the best time to bring the best out of the HE and his creativity, from which I have learned a lot. I have got a good insight into various aspects of marketing, goods purchasing, staff management, dealing with customers, innovative ideas and cooking a few types of food. Since the beginning of our cooperation, I have acquired significant experience about overall skills necessary to run a restaurant in regular and irregular circumstances.”