While the proportion of women entrepreneurs in Europe is increasing, there is still a significant gender gap in entrepreneurship. Addressing this gap requires a joint effort to provide greater access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs, as well as addressing systemic biases and promoting diversity and inclusivity in entrepreneurship. With the project “Promoting Women Environment Entrepreneurship”, we aim to close this gap and support young women entrepreneurship in Europe.
The exact number of women and men who own businesses varies depending on the country and region. However, the smallest gender gaps are found in low- and middle-income countries according to data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2020/2021 report. When we take a closer look at Europe, according to a report by the European Parliament, women account for about 34% of self-employed individuals and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs in the European Union. When we address these disproportions, we need to take into consideration several indicators describing the gap between men and women entrepreneurs. First of them is access to funding, as women entrepreneurs tend to receive less funding than their male counterparts, and this gap is particularly pronounced at the seed stage. Another indicator is the representation of women in leadership roles – women are often underrepresented in senior management positions and on corporate boards. Women entrepreneurs may also face challenges in building networks and accessing mentorship opportunities, which are critical for business success. The last, but not least important indicator is work-life balance. Women entrepreneurs may face greater challenges in balancing their personal and professional lives, as they often bear a greater burden of caregiving responsibilities.
The need to close these gaps and support young women entrepreneurship in Europe inspired three organizations: Youthpreneur Stichting from the Netherlands, Volunteers Centre Skopje from Macedonia and Eprojectconsult from Italy to create the project that delivers digital means such as training curricula, webinars and mentoring sessions to all ambitious young people who plan to start their enterprise.
Within “Promoting Women Environment Entrepreneurship” project, we organized 15 webinars in three languages and reached the number of almost 400 participants. During the webinars, we covered topics from three e-courses that are available on the dedicated online platform. We discussed topics like business technology, social and environmental entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial finance.
The webinars were the starting point for e-courses and mentoring sessions. The mentoring sessions that in no time became popular in our network connected experienced mentors and mentees who received a huge dose of practical knowledge and tips on starting a new enterprise or how to be an exceptional entrepreneur. We organized a total of 105 mentoring sessions. We didn’t stop there and organized events in Italy and Macedonia and two events online where we gathered participants eager to learn more about gender equality and entrepreneurship.
Throughout webinars, mentoring sessions and events, we engaged over 16 experts, from business coaches, successful business owners, psychologists and youth workers to sales managers who gave their insights as webinar trainers and mentors.
We feel happy to see the project inspired so many people and that so many young women consider starting their own enterprises.
Women entrepreneurship has power!
Irina: “I liked the fact that the knowledge I gained was not taken from some theory but from the actual personal experiences of the lecturers. I don’t think I will change anything regarding my career. However, I am happy that now I am richer by all the insights I gained on the topic.”
Dance: “It is always good to hear multiple perspectives on a number of topics of interest from women entrepreneurs. These webinars have been quite educational and have opened up some new views for me on how to perceive and approach the entrepreneurial challenges in front of me.”
Marija: “I learned where I can apply for projects and also got an idea of the current state of the labor market presented through the eyes of people working in HR. I couldn’t directly relate the trainings to my future career (sustainable architecture), but I learned a lot of information that I think will be useful in the future.”
Elena: “I would definitely recommend this project to my colleagues and friends. It’s a powerful tool to learn and share knowledge. It offers support to female entrepreneurs and anyone who have an idea but doesn’t know where to start. Inspiring women leaders with their knowledge and experience bring the mentoring sessions even better to focus on what matters most to the individual. At the same time, the network you build opens up many different possibilities for the future.”
Note: This article was created as a part of the project “Promoting Women Environment Entrepreneurship” funded with the support of the Erasmus+ program of the European Union, through Key Action 2 – KA210-YOU – Small-scale partnerships in youth. The opinions expressed in this material belong to its authors and do not reflect the position of the European Commission. Project No. KA210-YOU-227D5AAC