#SlovakiaBusinessWomen #EmpowermentInnovation #EqualityInEntrepreneurship
The momentum in Europe’s startup ecosystem is palpable, and Slovakia adds on and continues to play a role in this growth story. Entrepreneurship policy is under development in the Slovak Republic, and there are many examples of recent activities that aim to improve the policy framework for entrepreneurship support and several specific measures have been
implemented. It is significant that The National Business Centre providing comprehensive support to SMEs and would-be entrepreneurs started operations.
Some tailored support is available, notably education and training programmes for youth, several initiatives for women (like business competitions) and for the unemployed. While most of these actions are done on a small scale, it is noticed that there have been positive results.
The empowerment of women entrepreneurs is fueling Slovakia’s economic growth & job creation too. In fact, it’s redefining the landscape by fostering creativity, innovation and inclusivity. As Slovakia propels itself into the global marketplace, women entrepreneurs are not only driving the nation forward, but also ensuring a more equitable and prosperous future for all.
#EmpoweringWomen #SlovakiaInnovators #EntrepreneurialSpirit
Here are some policies, initiatives and schemes that women entrepreneurs can avail of in Slovakia.
> Policies Framework in Slovakia
In the policies framework in Slovakia, specific entrepreneurship policy actions are co-ordinated through inter-ministerial meetings on specific issues at the national level. From 2018 Social Economy and Social Enterprises came into force, and its aim is – to create an environment for the development of the social economy and social enterprises. The main aim of the new law is – to regulate the social economy sector by creating the favourable conditions for the development of the social economy; this is done so that it not only benefits from increasing
employment but also from other socially beneficial goals.
The Slovak Business Agency, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, prepared a document called “Scheme for support of family business 2017 – 2020 (de minimis aid scheme)”, which defines several measures with the aim to improve conditions for the sustainability and development of family businesses. Small and medium-sized enterprises that meet the definition of a family enterprise listed in the “Scheme” will be able to apply for support (without co-financing) such as – professional consulting services, analyses,
studies, market surveys, proposals for measures to improve the market position of a family business, participation in seminars, trainings, lectures, etc. devoted to the topic of family business and reimbursement of costs related to participation in fairs, conferences and other international events.
For financing entrepreneurship, the Slovak Guarantee and Development Bank offers some targeted products for women and youth, but they are granted under the same conditions as for the whole population. In addition, the government also announced new tax measures to promote self-employment. These measures should provide an incentive for potential entrepreneurs from under-represented and disadvantaged groups to consider starting a business.
The Slovak Business Agency also provides training – among other services – within the “Successful business practice” programme, and the main objective is – to enhance public interest in entrepreneurship by stimulating entrepreneurial ambitions and developing entrepreneurial skills. One of its goals is also the promotion of successful role models among not only businessmen, but also female entrepreneurs along with their businesses, products, ideas of public-private partnerships and initiatives to support the development of
entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking.
In addition, the SBA launched the National Business Centre (NBC) in the Bratislava region and subsequently in all other regions. It aims to provide comprehensive support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (including disadvantaged social groups such as young people, women, 50+ adults, people with social and health related disabilities, etc.), and those interested in starting their business.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Policies
The policy framework for supporting entrepreneurship for women is woven into several strategic documents for the allocation of EU Structural and Investment Funds (eg the Operational Programme for Research and Innovation, the Operational Programme Human Resources for the programming period 2014- 20).
There are tailored initiatives to support the acquisition of entrepreneurship skills for women such as mentors for women entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurial platforms. Despite these activities women entrepreneurs mention the lack of skills and competences as one of their main issues.
The SBA’s National Business Centre operates several programmes open to all, some of which record significant female participation. The Acceleration Programme (one of the four NBC programmes available to SMEs) offers professional substantial help – with business plan preparing, counselling, training courses and activities aimed at the development of business potential to address the needs of those interested in entrepreneurship; increasing awareness about entrepreneurship as a career alternative; and presenting business success
stories and good business practice.
The Slovak Business Agency is currently implementing the international project “Enhancing the cross-sector emergence of new Women Business Angels across the EU”. The project aims at supporting the growth and development of new and early-stage businesses run by women and support female angel investors who are interested in investing their expertise, time and money into female start-ups.
As for the entrepreneurial culture and social capital, most promotion efforts tend to focus on women and youth. For example, there is an annual contest of the “Woman Entrepreneur of Slovakia”, organized by the Slovak Business Agency, celebrating successful women entrepreneurs.
> National Strategy for Gender Equality
The Government of Slovakia commits to Step it up for gender equality through its National Strategy for Gender Equality, and the related Action Plan for Gender Equality. The Government commits to new targets, like – to reduce the gender pay gap and promote conditions for women’s employment; to strengthen the principle of non-discrimination, focusing especially on women from marginalized social groups such as Roma women and women with disabilities; to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions; and to continue efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, in accordance with the Istanbul Convention.
> Business and Professional Women (BPW) Slovensko
Business and Professional Women (BPW) Slovensko is a branch of BPW International, which is a global networking organization that brings together female entrepreneurs, businesspeople and professionals from over 90 countries, helping them achieve their full potential both in the workplace and in public life.
Members of BPW benefit from a number of plus points – like an international network of like-minded women, fun and thought-provoking events, training & mentoring, awards and recognition, publicity and new business opportunities.
Membership at BPW is open to women of all ages regardless of their profession. BPW Slovensko also provides training sessions – to promote personal development of its members, covering topics such as employment relations, employment rights, starting a business, and how to overcome personal limitations.
> The Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020
Released by the European Commission, The Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020 includes women (in the category next to disabled people, migrants, seniors, etc). This is a group of the European population which is underrepresented in the EU28 regarding entrepreneurial activity. Access to finance, training, networking and the work-life balance are also core problems for women in Slovakia.
That’s why the Slovak Women Platform has formulated nine recommendations in three areas – work-life balance, women leaders and managers and of coursewomen entrepreneurship in its project “Voices of Women – We Want a Better
- Decreasing the excessive administrative burden when establishing a business in Slovakia. The goal is the possibility to establish a business in 24 hours using one consolidated register from one contact point online. According to the World Bank, when it comes to establishing a business, there are still 76 better economies in the world. In Slovakia, it takes approximately 12 days to establish a business.
- Establishment of co-working and motivation-educational centers based on local partnerships. This recommendation is focused on women in smaller towns and in rural areas. There are a considerable number of women entrepreneurs in the regions who should not be forgotten. Local partnerships between municipalities and the local private and non-profit sector could be a solution to bringing entrepreneurship ideas closer to women.
- Small credit scheme for women entrepreneurs with a symbolic interest rate connected to the advisory services. Startups, micro-entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with a more risky profile and female entrepreneurs often find it more difficult to obtain financing from commercial banks. This could be an area where public financing could be of benefit. In addition, providing financing could be connected with mentoring and advisory services provided by mentors or experienced entrepreneurs aiming to help female entrepreneurs to overcome market problems.
Finally, it is important to state that targeted support for women entrepreneurship is very essential. They plan to continue showcasing women leaders, who will motivate the next generations and give them the motivation to fight gender stereotypes, which is the core obstacle to women entrepreneurship.