2.2 million euro project boosting women entrepreneurship in South East Europe kicks off
Women-led enterprises have direct impact on economic development, as they reduce use of safety net services and bring higher social and tax benefits for the economy, said Jelica Minic, Deputy Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretary General, at the Bosnia and Herzegovina launch of the project Women entrepreneurship – a job creation engine for South East Europe, in Sarajevo, today.
The purpose of the project, worth 2.2 million euro, is to help raise awareness on specifics of women entrepreneurship, enhance capacities of their networks and associations in South East Europe, and boost the entrepreneurship through combined public and private sector efforts.
The project is financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), coordinated by the RCC Secretariat, and implemented by the South East European Center for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) and the Gender Task Force (GTF). It will be realized over the next three years in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.
“For a country or a region to compete successfully in the global economy, it is of paramount importance to capitalize on the full potential of its resources”, said Minic.
“Women suffer considerable disadvantages in terms of access to labor markets and face constraints in terms of sectors of economic activity in which they participate. They are often in a disadvantaged position in terms of the share of vulnerable employment: in South East Europe, most women still work in lower-paid, part-time or irregular jobs.”
“Governments can strongly contribute to promoting women entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation especially through small and medium enterprises as the main engine of growth and employment. Governments have a key role in establishing the policy framework and creating the right incentives that will produce smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.”
An important activity during the initial phases of the project will be to take stock of the gender structure of business ownership in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries. The project will record the number of permanently-owned women businesses, which will be used for the purpose of evidence-based policy making in support of women entrepreneurship.
The Women entrepreneurship – a job creation engine for South East Europe project reflects RCC priorities in economic and social development as specified in the organization’s Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013: promotion of a single investment space through the South East Europe Investment Committee, identification of ways to improve access to finance, and mainstreaming of employment and social agenda into economic reform deliberations.
The regional project launch took place in Zagreb, Croatia, on 21 September 2012. As a platform for guiding, coordinating and sustaining regional cooperation, the RCC Secretariat will continue to support the project and women entrepreneurship in South East Europe.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.