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24 February 2011

EU to start mentoring scheme for businesswomen

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Women entrepreneurs got an important nod from the European Commission in its review of the Small Business Act this week, and advocates hope it signals renewed energy and funding for EU initiatives

In sharpening its priorities to help small and medium-sized businesses, the European Commission said it will create mentoring schemes for female entrepreneurs in at least 10 member countries to provide advice and support.

The idea has been floating around for more than a year and is expected to be modelled after the existing European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors.

"A lot has been done by the Commission, but a lot still needs to be done if we want to get out of the crisis today," Antonio Tajani, EU commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said at a press conference on Wednesday (23 February).

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the economic engine of Europe. The Commission estimates that 99% of businesses in Europe have 250 or fewer employees.

Good data on women entrepreneurs are hard to find, but throughout Europe estimates peg the percentage of female business owners below 30%. In an effort to bring more women into the workforce, the Commission is looking at ways to tackle the financial and social challenges that hinder some women from running their own businesses.


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