Breaking Barriers: Women Entrepreneurship Reshaping Czechia’s Business Landscape

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In focus: Some Government Incentives & Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs from Czechia

In the heart of Europe, Czechia is witnessing a remarkable surge in women-led entrepreneurial ventures. From Prague to Brno, women entrepreneurs are defying norms, reshaping industries, and fostering economic growth. The landscape of women entrepreneurship in Czechia is evolving, breaking traditional barriers, and embracing innovation. As women leaders navigate through diverse sectors, from technology to arts, their stories illuminate the path for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Czech government plays a crucial role, offering incentives and support programs, including tax exemptions, grants, low-interest loans, and training opportunities through initiatives like the “Women’s Business Center” and “Equal Business.”

Let’s explore the thriving realm of women entrepreneurship in Czechia, delving into challenges, successes, and the pivotal role these women play in steering the country’s economic narrative towards inclusivity and diversity.

#CzechWomenEntrepreneurs #EmpoweringDreams #BusinessInnovation #WomenLeadershipCzechia

> Government Policy

Entrepreneurship policy here comes largely under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which is focused on supporting entrepreneurship and the economy in general. Entrepreneurship support is embedded in several national government documents, and in strategic documents for the allocation of EU Structural and Investment Funds (OP Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness, OP Employment, OP Research, Development and Education). Several other ministries play a complementary role in designing and implementing entrepreneurship policy. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for the inclusion of disadvantaged population groups in the labour market as an employee or self-employed person. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for the inclusion of entrepreneurship in the system of formal education at all levels of education.

Inclusive entrepreneurship strategies and objectives

The key document concerning business support in the Czech Republic is – the “Small and Medium Enterprises Support Strategy 2014-20” (MIT, 2012). SME policy is largely under the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT). The strategy seeks to – help businesses develop and grow, notably through improvements to the business environment and direct support, including access to finance, mentoring, technology scouting, coaching, market intelligence and technology forecasting. Inclusive entrepreneurship target groups (eg women, youth, seniors, the unemployed, migrants, people with disabilities, etc.) are generally not explicitly mentioned in the strategy, however it highlights the long-term unemployed and persons facing social exclusion as needing additional support in accessing financing for business start-up.

A key programme that implements the objectives of the SME Strategy is – the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness 2014-20. The primary source of funds for this Programme is the European Regional Development Fund. But, this programme does not include special tailored support to potential entrepreneurs from under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

A number of more specific strategies and action plans have been developed for different population groups in recent years: “Government Strategy for Equality of Women and Men in the Czech Republic for 2014-20” (The Office of the Government of CR, 2014), “Roma Integration Strategy up to 2020” (The Office of the Government of CR, 2014), Migration Policy Strategy (Ministry of Interior, 2015), Foreigner Integration Strategy (Ministry of Interior, updated 2016), Youth Support Strategy (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, 2014), National Action Plan to Promote Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities for 2015- 20 (Office of the Government of CR, 2014).

Most of these strategies mention the general importance of entrepreneurship, but touch on inclusive entrepreneurship only indirectly & marginally. The most significant tailored measures to support start-up and self-employment are for women, especially women caring for family members (small children, grandparents etc.). Government Strategy for Equality of Women and Men sets as one of its specific objectives “the systematic support of women’s entrepreneurship, the introduction of targeted programmes to increase the number of women entrepreneurs”.

Entrepreneurship support is, in general, implemented primarily within the OP Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness 2014-20. However, after meeting certain conditions, this support is intended for business entities without distinction. Support from this programme is focused on – counselling new entrepreneurs as well. Entrepreneurship skills development can be one of the many activities of projects realized within the OP Employment.

https://www.oecd.org/cfe/smes/Czech-Republic-IE-2020.pdf

> The Innovation strategy 2019 – 2030

The Czech Republic has The Innovation strategy 2019 – 2030 and The Strategy to Support Small and Middle-size Enterprises for the period 2021 – 2027. Both of them emphasize that knowledge about entrepreneurship and its opportunities, especially in the relation to the digital transformation is relatively low in the Czech Republic. Both see huge opportunities for promotion through the school system and social security system.

To raise the awareness and competencies among young entrepreneurs, the goal of more involvement of risk capital and capital diversification is seen as viable to facilitate the young entrepreneurs’ involvement and better access to real and practical information for their business endeavours, as well as the national National Educational Curricula reform. Also, the Education Strategy 2030+ reflects these objectives.

https://national-policies.eacea.ec.europa.eu/youthwiki/chapters/czechia/39-start-up-
funding-for-young-entrepreneurs

> Funding Opportunities

Funding opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to support the digital competences of individuals and organizations are available in the form of – loans, grants, and financial instruments. For the period 2021 – 2026 most of the activities in digital transformation are financed through Recovery and Resilience facility but also as activities in Horizon, Erasmus+, ESIF, and EEA grant schemes. Check out for more info on the page of the Czech Republic’s National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition.

The Czech Republic’s Recovery and Resilience Plan has a total allocation of EUR 7 billion in grants, out of which 22% will foster the digital transition, and 42% will support climate objectives. The plan’s reforms and investments will make the Czech Republic more resilient, sustainable, and well-equipped for the opportunities and challenges presented by the green and digital transitions.

Digital challenges for Czech Republic include – improving connectivity through very high-capacity networks, expanding the availability and use of e-government services, and assisting businesses, particularly SMEs, in going digital. To address the growing need of organizations and businesses to swiftly undergo digital transformation, advanced digital capabilities need to be improved. With investments and reforms in digital skills, e-government, digital connectivity, and business digital transformation, Czech Republic’s recovery and resilience plan supports the digital transition.

https://digital-skills-jobs.europa.eu/en/latest/briefs/available-funding-czech-republic

> The Czech-Moravian Association of Businesswomen & Managers (ČMAPM)

ČMAPM is a voluntary professional association that has been involved with women entrepreneurs and managers. They are an association with the longest tradition in the Czech Republic and, with the largest functional network at the regional, national and international level.

So, CMAEM is a voluntary organization based on solidarity of women entrepreneurs and their willingness to help other women entrepreneurs and managers to work in their professional life, to learn to combine it not only with family life, but also with personal development. Since 1995, CMAEM has been the association with the longest tradition in the Czech Republic and the largest functional network on the regional, national, international levels.

Membership is open to both regular / honorary members of the association and companies of all sizes who want to support the growth and importance of an environment focused not only on developing the personal and creative potential of members in fulfilling their professional goals, but also on exchanging experiences between entrepreneurs and managers.

They offer many opportunities to participate in activities that enable professional growth like partner events with other women’s organizations in the Czech Republic and abroad, professional development meetings, from round tables with leading business leaders to social gatherings and so on.

Among other things, they help members get the most out of the association’s association with the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM) (Femmes Chefs d‘Entreprises Mondiales)

https://www.cmapm.cz/en/

> Strive Czechia

Strive Czechia unleashes the power of Micro and Small Enterprises in the Czech Republic to succeed in the digital economy. So, Strive Czechia promotes inclusive growth by supporting local micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to grow their businesses and succeed in the digital economy through digital skills and tools, access to finance, critical skills strengthening, and mentoring and networking.

By engaging a network of local partners, including financial service providers, they can leverage existing MSE support services and design or adapt accessible financial products and services, specifically tailored to MSEs, with a focus on women. By demystifying digitalization, they aim to create demand for digital business growth solutions among MSEs in Czechia.

Mainly, their approach aims to fill existing gaps in the enabling environment and will bolster MSE financial resilience and business growth, while strengthening the entrepreneurial support ecosystem. Through the program they aim to work with those in the ecosystem – to influence and improve policies impacting micro and small enterprises.

https://www.care.org/our-work/womens-economic-justice/womens-entrepreneurship/strive-czechia/

> Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

What is the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)? Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Supports Business Women not only in CZ.

AWE is a study program targeted at women entrepreneurs, beginners or women who have a business plan. The study program itself lasts three months. The participants will work on their business plans throughout the whole study program. This program is also suitable for those women who only recently established a new business, for they can learn how to get the most of it!

At the end of the program, the participants can expect a final contest. The project that will win the contest will receive financial support of 50 000 CZK.

https://blog.foreigners.cz/academy-women-entrepreneurs/

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