What does Future Heroes stand for?

Why the sudden change from Superheroes to Future Heroes? The easy answer is, we had to, we simply grew out of Superheroes. It was time to mature and build our character. We are the same people but with a stronger cause. We are building a sisterhood without borders. We are creating viable businesses with a positive impact. We stand for leadership that's inclusive and empathetic. Let's hear more from the founder, Eva K. Ponomarjov.
Eva, what is the main reason you decided to change the name of the project and rebrand?
Three years ago, I founded Superheroes while working as the Head of Investment for Baltics at the Department for International Trade. In my work, I barely saw any women running ambitious businesses or making keynote speeches at the vast number of conferences I attended or organised. At the same time, my daughter was 15 and taking her own first steps in entrepreneurship, asking me where to go next. She gave me a very good reason and inspired me to start Superheroes. There were just too few mentors and role models for girls out there that were relatable, that would have sparked the courage in girls to dare more. Something had to be done.

Driven by the famous saying, "You can't be what you can't see," I gathered all the amazing girls, women and men I knew around the table and embarked on a mission. I remember the first time I told Ursula Roosmaa from the British Council Estonia about the idea and we both felt that the time was right. British Council gave us the wings to fly and Ursula became the amazing godmother of the program. That was the beginning. Three years fast forward, we do have mentors and role models, right here amongst ourselves. These incredible alumni girls are starting powerful climate actions, like Kristin Siil, our alumni from last year.

These girls have changed a leadership and entrepreneurship program into a fully fledged organisation with a strong culture and a vision to create a global sisterhood without borders. Now that we have 21 alumni girls as Big Sisters actively engaged in making the program, we have the power and courage to keep on changing. We are becoming the face, mindset and actions of the girls who have gone through the program and are actively changing the future. Future Heroes felt like the most precise, the most appropriate name for what we do, what we believe in and how we are determined to be our own heroes, making positive impact in the world.
How does Future Heroes promote sustainability?
The girls in the program have become my heroes in changing quite a bit of they way I'm thinking about the future and our role and responsibility in it. That's why we decided that with the new brand, we will live that brand. It starts from little things like bringing our own water bottles to the workshop to producing our hoodies from upcycled materials. It goes from our catering practices to how we decide to celebrate our Gala without producing things that are used just once and thrown away the day later. Instead, we will get creative, look for smarter, sustainable solutions.

It's not that we want only our Future Heroes program projects to create positive impact in the world, it's also about Future Heroes as an organisation. We will practice what we preach. Just as an example, we have partnered up with Sisu Kott, our last year's winner, to produce tote-bags that are made of fully upcycled materials and give jobs to Põlvamaa Puuetega Inimeste Koda. That's just a start with many more partnerships to follow.
What are the new values to the program that come with changing the name?
We value community, growth and the positive change we create for ourselves, the people we are surrounded with, and the environment that needs us to be mindful. We value the idea that each and everyone matters, that the intentions that we have matter.

That's why our program doesn't just focus on practical skills, it also talks about self-awareness, empathy and how to maintain a good balance. When we talk about growth, we focus on the courage, creativity and commitment to dare, to test and to persevere. We want everyone in the program to come away with the feeling that they have grown as people, they value themselves for what they are and what they stand for and they know to value each other.
How will this season of Future Heroes be different from the previous ones?
This season, we have changed quite a bit in the way we operate. The teams will be formed based on ideas that resonate most. Also, there will be more diverse mentors to guide the teams along the way. We continue to be international and invite exciting guests from all around the globe to share their inspiring stories with us. We have put the focus in our leadership and business accelerator on achieving positive impact. It's not about building any businesses or projects at Future Heroes, it's about building businesses that are making a difference in the world, actively solving problems. There are plenty of good examples of profitable businesses that are cause-driven, Patagonia or Tom's to just name a few.
Who's this "future" hero? How can we define her ? What characteristics does she have?
The future hero is considerate, committed, open-minded and creative. The world is rapidly changing and it's important to notice and cherish people around us, to welcome and cope with challenge, to be creative, seize opportunities as well as know when to rest, slow down and enjoy life. It shouldn't be about gender or age or geography, but about values that unite us as humans. As simple as that.
What is the impact you are creating, what's the goal?
The impact should be a healthier, more inclusive future for everyone. Less fixed beliefs about how we or the world should be like. We need more curiosity, kindness and creativity to make the world bigger, not smaller. The goal with Future Heroes is to build a global sisterhood without borders, where initiatives like this could pop up in places they're needed the most.
How does the end result of Future Heroes look like in your head?
I can see lots of alumni reunions in different parts of the world with girls who have become women living the life they chose, not the life that was chosen for them. I hope there have been lots of meaningful connections made, lots of dreams made a reality, lots of potential unlocked. A global sisterhood in action, a community that inspires and encourages to dare and thrive.