Binnenmarkt, Industrie, Unternehmertum und KMU

Female entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneurs

Even though there are more women than men in Europe, female entrepreneurs represent only a third of the self-employed in the EU. There are some additional factors (such as reconciling business and family) that make entrepreneurship a less attractive option for them than for men. The European Commission is working with EU countries to overcome these and encourage more women to start their own companies.

Current situation of female entrepreneurs in the EU:

  • women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs
  • female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an under-exploited source of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed.

Main challenges faced by female entrepreneurs

When establishing and running a business, women face challenges such as:

  • access to finance
  • access to information
  • training
  • access to networks for business purposes
  • reconciling business and family concerns.

What the Commission does

The Commission promotes and supports female entrepreneurship through the Small Business Act and the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.

One of the Commission's main initiatives is to support networking among female entrepreneurs, potential female entrepreneurs, and support organisations.

The EU Prize for Women Innovators is awarded to women who have received EU research and innovation funding at some point in their careers, and recently founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas. See the 2017 winners.

Support tools for female entrepreneurs

The Commission supports several tools such as networks and an e-platform helping women become entrepreneurs and run successful businesses:

  • WEgate-platform: a one-stop-shop for women entrepreneurship
  • The European Community of Women Business Angels and women entrepreneurs
  • The European network to promote women's entrepreneurship (WES)
  • The European network of female entrepreneurship ambassadors
  • The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs

Supporting documents

  1. Study on 'Statistical data on Women entrepreneurs in Europe' (3 MB) (2014). Data shows that women entrepreneurs constitute 29% of entrepreneurs (11.6 million) in Europe. Since 2008 there has been an increase of women entrepreneurs in the EU of 3%. Women represent the majority of one-person enterprises in the EU (78%) and they prefer to set up businesses in the area of health, social-work activities, services or education. The study was carried out in the EU plus Albania, North Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.
  2. Study on female innovators and entrepreneurship (2 MB).