Making women bankable
Östra Mellansverige, Sweden
The Micro Finance Institute promotes entrepreneurship among economically deprived women by helping them come up with a business plan and then get the funding to make it happen. Nearly 110 women representing 25 nationalities and varying educational backgrounds participated, with 16 of them starting their own businesses.
“The women have started all kinds of businesses, from restaurants and shops to import-export, and a couple have even got their own patents.”
Joyce Kimwaga Lundin, Micro Finance Institute project manager
Inspired by the project, two local banks now offer microfinance low- or no-interest loans as part of their regular product mix. Project managers have also established an ongoing policy dialogue with local authorities, banks, politicians and others about the use of microfinance as a tool for social inclusion.
Covering four counties, the project targets women who are unemployed or working part time, newly arrived immigrants and those ages 18-30 with little or no experience. By providing access to financing and three years of personalised support, the program helps these women start a business, employ themselves and others – and thus lead meaningful lives.
As a first step, the Micro Finance Institute helps participants draft a business plan based on their own talents and socio-economic circumstances as well as detailed market research. It then assists with the loan application. An Innovation Bureau screens every idea, helping each participant tap into her own creative potential.
Financial and professional support
The project grew out of five years of experience in promoting entrepreneurship among immigrant women, often excluded from participating in business by a lack of sustainable financing and by prevailing prejudices in society. The Micro Finance Institute originally targeted 80 women in Stockholm, Sörmland, Östergötland and Västra Götland counties, but has already mobilised nearly 110 women since it was launched on 1 January 2008.
After helping participants draft a detailed business plan, experts then help fill out an application for a loan fund to the Regional Development Fund and Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Growth of Economic Development. Ideas for microfinance products are developed with the beneficiaries and are based on cooperation with several banks.
Each region has one organisation responsible for implementing the project locally as well as an area of expertise for the entire project including innovation, microfinance, entrepreneurship and networking. Cooperation with the European Micro Finance Institute offers an insight into best practices across Europe. Outreach to various community actors has led to the creation of two courses for immigrants at a local high school.
- ERDF from January 2008 to December 2008
- EUR 993 000
- EUR 393 400
- Micro Finance Institute