Encouraging Female Entrepreneurship
The seminar held in London on 11-12 September 2014 discussed how gender-focused business support can be effectively delivered through women-focused initiatives, as well as how this support provided by stakeholders and politicians can be secured. The UK programme is based on the collaboration between the Government Equality Office (GEO) and the Women’s Business Council (WBC), which aim to promote and coordinate the Government Enterprise Schemes for women. The WBC, set up in 2012, advises the UK Government on how women’s contribution to economic growth could be optimised. Female entrepreneurship was identified as one of four key areas with the greatest potential for economic benefits. In 2013, the WBC issued a series of recommendations for both government and business to intervene in four key policy fields (promoting enterprise in education; increasing the availability of role models; access to finance; and supporting women’s business start-ups), which are currently implemented and monitored in the framework of a programme running from September 2013 to June 2015. In Scotland a somewhat similar collaborative Framework and Action Plan was launched in March 2014, after consultation with public and private sector partners. Women’s Enterprise Scotland will support the Scottish Government in implementating the Action Plan.
Germany presented an awareness raising and informative campaign aimed at advertising career options for women in skilled crafts. The Roadshow 'My Future: Female Boss in the Crafts Business', is an interactive multi-media exhibition launched in April 2011 by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ). The exhibition portrays six business owners in fields that have so far been considered untypical for women. Visitors get an insight into the daily work and are informed about the most important aspects involved, from starting a business to planning their legal succession. The Roadshow is implemented in co-operation with the Chambers of skilled crafts and their educational facilities, so as to encourage the Chambers and other relevant stakeholders at the regional level to raise awareness about the broad range of career options available to women.
The presented practices received positive feedback from the participants. In addition to addressing the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs, the practices support women’s motivation and confidence. Furthermore, both practices encourage female business consolidation alongside start-up support; introduce entrepreneurship in education and girl guides into technical and financial education; support female businesses in male dominated sectors by providing role models, technical and financial assistance; promote awareness raising; and support work-life balance by providing care facilities and targeted policy measures. Other important issues that were raised during the discussion include the need to reconsider policies supporting female (and male) self-employment in crisis periods, given the high risk of failure; the desire to revise the definition of “successful business”; the recommendation to have more detailed and accurate quantitative and qualitative data, as well as monitoring and evaluation activities; the requirement to involve business and financial sectors and to envisage alternative forms of financing in order to secure continuous funding; and the need to avoid using gender neutral language in this field of action.