Women entrepreneurs rocking the economic recovery

Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, once said “a woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water”.

While her statement was made approximately 60 year ago it can still be relevant today, especially when referring to women’s role in our economy.

As produces, consumers, managers, employees and entrepreneurs women could play a key role in the EU’s economic recovery. My assertion is valid to all types of women’s employment, and it becomes even more relevant when referring to women entrepreneurs.

As produces, consumers, managers, employees and entrepreneurs women could play a key role in the EU’s economic recovery. My assertion is valid to all types of women’s employment, and it becomes even more relevant when referring to women entrepreneurs.

Since women find it more difficult to secure jobs for themselves after long absence from the labour market or when approaching the retirement age, female entrepreneurship provides women needed flexibility to integrate into the labour market.

Taking on an entrepreneurial initiative, women do not only create employment for themselves, but they also create jobs for others.

While women entrepreneurship could be seen as a valuable source of economic growth and creation of jobs, their rates in the EU remain very low ranging around 34.4%.

To promote female entrepreneurship in Europe I co-hosted, together with colleague Małgorzata Handzlik, MEP, and Seldia (the direct selling association) a three-day event on Women Entrepreneurs: Five Pillars for Growth.

An exhibition, lunch debate, breakfast discussion and interactive workshops were held in the context of the exhibition on 19-21 February in the European Parliament in Brussels. These events focused on five themes which were identified as essential for the successful development of female entrepreneurship in Europe. Such include: government policies, education, innovation, networks and access to finance.

Currently the EU is lacking policies for making entrepreneurship an attractive business option for women, especially in comparison to other geographical regions.

A study by Gallup Europe confirms that by showing that just 2.8% of European women are planning to start up a business, compared to 4.2% in the US and 6.4% in Canada.

More importantly the EU has yet to develop an environment where existing female entrepreneurs can more easily grow their firms.  According to the same study, only 20% of European women feel at ease managing their own business, compared to 31% of women in the US and 37% in Canada.

Not changing the current situation is a missed opportunity for recovery and growth. This statement was also echoed by Commissioner Viviane Reding and Commissioner Michel Barnier in their speeches during the inauguration reception of the exhibition on 19 February.

Ways to support women who want to start their own business, or are already in business, must include more access to finance at early and advanced stage of the business cycle; higher availability of mentorship schemes, training and education programmes.

Finding ways to reinforce the self-confidence of aspiring female entrepreneur might be the most vital element. It has been testified by many women, who participated in the discussions and debate that starting a business requires a great dose of courage, faith and determination, especially in times of financial crisis.

If women lack confident in themselves and in their business idea they are likely to fail, therefore we must address this issue through available circles: be it the family, the society, certainly policy.

Ahead of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, which will be dedicated to how women are weathering the economic crisis, our message should be bold and clear; Women are there, they know how to do it. Our task is to ensure they have means available to turn their ideas into reality.

Greetings from the European Parliament,

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg

Pictures from the events (copyrights Thierry Dauwe)

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2 thoughts on “Women entrepreneurs rocking the economic recovery

  1. Pingback: Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg, europarlamentar: Antreprenoarele dau avânt revenirii economice

  2. Hi, Mrs. Lidia. I really had enjoy this news comming from the European Parliament, in general as an institution and specially to all of you that personal and directly participate from the Europarliament in the Exhibition. And specially to you for this great post!. And I say this, even if I am not a woman, but a male, because from my short position and low voice as a mere european citizen; with my wife, we try to promote the great leverage that this kind of entrepreneurship (direct selling) to the average european home may be. It helps not just to save money; but also to gives incomes, and even more, to serve as that link between a middle passive housewife to became a novice entrepreneur, before being a formal entrepreneur. We’re working in a blog to help in that; no matter that we are physicians ourselves. And males also need that hope and help, because..”men cry too”. Thanks.

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