The European Union boasts of countries which have attained high indices of human development, the standard of living, law and order, per capita income, income from Fintech LTD trading and so on. However, there is still an area where these countries need to strive hard to go that extra mile. That is the women employment rates and the development of entrepreneurship among the female population. According to a publication from the European Commission, only 34.4% of the self-employed citizens and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs in the European Union are women, and among the employed women, only 10% were self-employed in 2012.
The Union has planned several programs for supporting women entrepreneurship, including financial assistance, increasing awareness and orientation programs, as a part of Europe 2020 Strategy.
The Hurdles For A Start
- In spite of being developed and socially enlightened, the European society still has placed obstacles for a woman to become successfully self-employed:
- Women may still be apprehensive about entering into a competitive business world owing to cultural pressures.
- The existence of gender bias among financial firms in supporting female entrepreneurs, as female-owned companies may be small or with limited expanse.
- Women may have less collateral capacity and experience and are less financially secured compared to men.
- Lack of awareness among the female population about the government initiatives and on the method to approach for assistance.
- Women may have less social networks to establish partnerships, financing and employees, and have the requirement to strike a work-family balance.
Steps from the European governments
- The European Commission has established the Small Business Act for supporting and promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), with a special focus on women.
- The European Social Fund (ESF) has been set up to provide financial and business support service to the underrepresented group including woman entrepreneurs. The German National Agency for Women Start-ups gives financial support also. The Spanish government offers micro-loan programme, supported by ESF for female entrepreneurs.
- In an effort to spread knowledge about entrepreneurship, the Commission supports many joint publications which throw light on the issue and policies in the series ‘Missing Entrepreneurs’.
- The commission has set up networks and e-platforms within the European community to develop women-led businesses, such as:
- WEgate-platform (a gateway for women entrepreneurship),
- European network to promote women’s entrepreneurship (WES)
Women Business Angels and women entrepreneurs community
Network of female entrepreneurship Ambassadors and Mentors (eg., Agency for Economic and Regional Growth of the Swedish government has an ambassador network of 800 female business owners).
- The Union has also created funding, grants and awards to promote innovation among women and the culmination of such ideas into business. For eg., The EU Prize for Women Innovators is awarded to women who have received EU research and innovation funding and have been involved in a successful start-up venture based on their ideas. The British Female Inventors and Innovators Network (BFIIN) provides assistance, information, and awareness-campaigns for commercialization to women entrepreneurs.
- Vocational training, distance learning and awareness campaigns: Providing right business skills, financial planning skills and creating interest in engineering and science.
So for all the women, if you have that innovative idea and the determination to break the ice, a plethora of opportunities lies before you in the strong armors of the European Union.