Despite developments made in gender equality, many gaps remain between males and females in realms such as education, employment and entrepreneurship. Beyond being a basic human right, women empowerment and gender equality is also a way to generate broad productivity gains. From a development perspective, empowering women and granting them equal rights in areas, such as entrepreneurship and innovation has positive spillovers on key development outcomes. Regarding women entrepreneurship in Europe, women remain substantially under-represented as entrepreneurs, even in countries where women’s participation in the labor market has been constantly increasing. Although women constitute 52% of the total European population, they only account for 34,4% of the EU self-employed, and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs.

Women entrepreneurs face major challenges and contstrains when it comes to starting and developing an enterprise.

  • Access to finance: Women entrepreneurs are faced with significant barriers to accessing funds. Helping women business owners become more successful in applying for direct or indirect funding from the EU is integral to enhancing women entrepreneurship.
  • Access to information: Access to entrepreneurship-related information is necessary for helping Women Entrepreneurs make informed decisions in the pursuit of economic empowerment. Information about tax regimes, legislation, technology, business networks, funding schemes, financial services and market trends among others are crucial to identifying and exploiting an entrepreneurial opportunity.
  • Lack of training: Insufficient training is one of the major challenges Women Entrepreneurs are faced with when establishing and running a business. Continuous training on technical, managerial and entrepreneurial topics is essential to successfully running and developing business activities in highly competitive economic sectors.
  • Access to networks and business partners: Women Entrepreneurs mention access to networks and partners, as a major challenge to conducting business. Effective partnerships and business networks and crucial to achieving growth and innovation.

WE GROW project will provide training and mentoring to highly innovative Women Entrepreneurs so they can apply successfully to the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, which provides direct funding to SMEs. The project will run from October 2017 to September 2019.

What is the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument?

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises that are EU-based or established in a country associated to Horizon 2020 can now get EU funding and support for breakthrough innovation projects with a market-creating potential under revamped SME instrument, which is rolled out as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. The SME instrument will boost fast company growth and market-creating innovation thanks to staged funding and ramped up business acceleration services.

For more information, visit the website of the European Commission.