Women entrepreneurship in South East Europe gains momentum with regional project to foster creation of new jobs

Zagreb, 21 September 2012 – More than 60 key national and international stakeholders in the policy-level discourse on women entrepreneurship gathered in Zagreb to celebrate the launch of the „Women Entrepreneurship – A Job Creation Engine for South East Europe“ regional project financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

While opening the conference, Ms Dijana Bezjak, Assistant Minister from the Croatian Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts welcomed warmly all the participants on behalf of the Ministry and stated that she “is glad that the project inauguration takes place in Croatia, being one of the first in our region to develop and to adopt in 2010 the Strategy for development of women entrepreneurship.” Further, she stressed that “Croatia as future EU member state will remain committed to fostering regional cooperation and provision of the continuous support to all processes related to development of entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship particularly in order to raise the competitiveness of the SEE region.”

This extensive 3-year project aims to raise awareness on the specifics of the entrepreneurship of women in our region and to enhance the capacities of women entrepreneurs' networks and associations through constructive policy dialogue in line with Small Business Act for Europe. Mr Mario Vignjević from the Embassy of Sweden, highlighted that “SIDA recognized the potential of women entrepreneurship as an opportunity for regional economic growth and change with the clear message that women are crucial to achieving economic sustainability in the SEE region.“

Specific activities of the project will focus on strengthening support systems for women entrepreneurs and further development of existing policy tools to facilitate policy making and policy planning, all of which is in line with the EU recommendations for policy for small and medium enterprises from the Small Business Act for Europe. Ms Jelica Minić from the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) emphasized that “the trend of emerging women entrepreneurship in the region is to be congratulated as it will help address the gap between current achievements and the potential of women entrepreneurs, particularly through policy provisions for lifelong entrepreneurial learning” which all is in line with Building a 2020 vision for South East Europe and in wider framework with EU 2020.

The conference presented main project activities and gave an outline of the three year implementation period to achieve the project results and a final goal to promote women entrepreneurship in South East Europe through combined public and private sector efforts.
The project duration is 36 months and it is implemented by the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) and the Gender Task Force (GTF) in close cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). The location of the project activities and direct actions is the South East European region, namely: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of independence