A Scandinavian model for women-led companies

Female entrepreneurs in three Nordic countries have joined forces to boost women-led small and medium-sized companies. Their aim is to strengthen the competitive conditions for the Kattegat/Skagerrak region through innovation, development and viable growth.

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The resulting network includes regional authorities, female entrepreneurs and scientists from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. A key part of their work is six seminars focused on growth.

Power of partnership

A recent survey showed that only one third of all new firms set up in Norway, Sweden and Denmark are started by women. In response, a total of 10 different partners from these three countries came together in 2007 to 2008, to create The Women in Business project. Partly funded by the EU, it will last three years.

The initiative came from Aust-Agder fylkeskommune, in south-eastern Norway, after an earlier Scandinavian cooperation initiative (‘Fasett’, 2002-2006). Under this, several female entrepreneurs from the three countries were involved and the final evaluation highlighted participants’ need and wish for further cooperation.

One goal of the new project is to stimulate more women to start their own companies in the Kattegat/Skagerrak region, working across the borders of the three countries involved in the project. Several successful women entrepreneurs, who are sharing their knowledge and expertise, support them.

The lead partner is Föreningen Norden, a politically independent organisation (NGO) with approximately 60 000 members throughout the Nordic countries. Other partners include four regional authorities. The project includes several groups with members from all three countries, and will cooperate with various academic institutes to assess barriers to female entrepreneurship in the region.

Knowledge and expertise

The partners have already held one of six planned growth seminars. Ultimately their mission is to develop a Scandinavian model for female entrepreneurship, after testing best practice methods that can be applied in all three countries. The activities should also lead to new knowledge of the factors that help the expansion and development of female-led companies, calling on innovation and novel approaches to business.

Progress is already encouraging, thanks to the involvement of businesses and mentors. By the end of the project, several of the participating female entrepreneurs will have a concrete development plan or business plan.

Draft date