The Conference was organized by the Gender Task Force (GTF), within the framework of the Regional Project “Women Entrepreneurship: A Job Creation Engine for South East Europe”, with the support of KAGIDER - Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and funded by the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA).
A Project Stakeholder Meeting preceded the Conference which by attended by: SBA coordinators, SIDA, RCC, GTF and SEECEL representatives. The Stakeholder Meeting served to present project achievements and outcomes on national and regional levels, as well as recommendations for further activities.
The Conference provided an exchange of experience and best practices of significant importance for the SEE Region, in the context of the new EU and SEE 2020 Strategy and provided an opportunity to establish a regional „state of the art“ for policies, strategies, databases, networking and other advances on Women Entrepreneurship (WE) in the 9 Project Participating Countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYRoM, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Moldova, Serbia and Turkey), as well as Bulgaria, Poland and United Kingdom.
Divided into three interconnected parts, in the first Panel, SBA coordinators and experts from 9 SEE countries presented progress in WE policies, strategies and databases in SEE. In the following Panel, experts from Croatia, Turkey and Albania spoke about the future of WE networking in SEE and EU, with global perspectives, after which participants engaged in a fruitful discussion. The third and final Panel on Women Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship: EU Experience and opportunities for SEE brought useful insights on the trends and practices in the EU from prominent experts and officials from Poland, UK and Croatia, after which the Conference concluded with the future Project plans and actions.
Delivering the Keynote Speech titled ‘It’s not a gender issue – it’s an economic one!’I emphasized the Strategic role of women entrepreneurs in the European economic recovery and growth. I promoted the need for women to be an economic issue, not gender issue and I highlighted the number jobs created and SMEs created from the engagement of women in the economy. None of the European level policies has fully recognised the gendered issues of business ownership, nor have they identified the growth opportunities or diversity within the business sector (home-based, micro-enterprises, family-owned).
My presentation focused on my experiences from introducing the EESC’s opinion SOC/446 on female entrepreneurship. I presented the bare numbers, specifically that in the European Union only 1 in 10 women are entrepreneurs as opposed to 1 in 4 men, with about 60% of university graduates being women. I pointed out that if we actually want to get out of the financial crisis then we need to support female entrepreneurship. For this I took the example of a research undertaken by Natwest Bank in the UK, which found that 88% of women compared with 74% of men, were predicting growth in their businesses, while the growth predicted averaged 25%.
Other speakers included Ms Gulden Turktan, the Kagider President, Ms Efka Heder, the SEECEL Director as well as RCC, SIDA and GTF representatives.
This was a great opportunity for me to transfer my experiences as a Member of the EESC and a successful entrepreneur into inspiring new women entrepreneurs and assisting in the formation of the policies towards Women Entrepreneurship in the South East Europe area.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this great opportunity to introduce the EESC’s initiatives the field of Women Entrepreneurship