In focus: Some Government Policies and Schemes that are available for women entrepreneurs in Slovenia
#SloveniaEntrepreneurship #WomenInBusiness #EmpowerHer #InclusiveGrowth #EqualityInEconomy
It is significant that Slovenia has experienced many changes – political and economic. In accordance with these changes, a global goal of the country’s economy has been set: to become an active and successful, globally competitive member of the European Union – to maintain & develop its competitive advantages, based added value of products and services.
So, in the evolving landscape of Slovenia, a concerted effort is underway to foster a globally competitive economy. Integral to this vision is the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, recognizing the potential for economic growth through gender diversity. While women in Slovenia have formal equality in the labor market, certain barriers persist, influencing the employment dynamics.
The Ministry of the Economy, through its Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness Policy, aims to cultivate a robust economic environment founded on innovation, knowledge, and technology. Despite a historically high female activity rate, women remain underrepresented in top managerial roles. Bridging this gap is a focal point of Slovenia’s commitment to empowering women in entrepreneurship.
Explore the government schemes and initiatives that propel women-led businesses in Slovenia to new heights, dismantling barriers and fostering a culture of inclusivity. Join us on a journey through the dynamics of women entrepreneurship in Slovenia, where innovation meets equality, as we look at government policies and schemes that are available for women entrepreneurs.
> Government Policies
A range of inclusive entrepreneurship policies and schemes have been introduced in Slovenia since 2020. The Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and the Ministry of Education are the primary players in the promotion of inclusive entrepreneurship policies and programmes to support entrepreneurs from under-represented and disadvantaged groups.
NEW POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
Many of the entrepreneurship initiatives are operated the Public Agency for Entrepreneurship, Internationalization, Foreign Investments and Technology (SPIRIT Slovenia), which implements entrepreneurship support in line with the Slovenian Development Strategy 2030.
Schemes targeting women entrepreneurship tend to target entrepreneurship skills, finance, and culture. For example, SPIRIT Slovenia operates the ABC Entrepreneurship programme which provides women with the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills, receive financial support and network with other women entrepreneurs. All women entrepreneurs who successfully complete the training can compete for financial incentives for the best business model of women entrepreneurs.
The core of the SPIRIT public programme is based on the public network of supportive environments, under the framework of the Innovative Environment Entities (SIO) programme, which supports entrepreneurs during the start-up and growth phases, while the support services of SPOT (Slovenian Business Point) are intended for all potential entrepreneurs and companies to obtain all the necessary information to start a business.
Many recent developments have focused on supporting youth entrepreneurship. Beginning in 2020, SPIRIT launched a campaign to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among youth through the Youth Programme. The campaign called for proposals for activities that promote creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in primary and secondary schools. Activities included training entrepreneurship mentors, initiatives to promote creativity and innovation through conferences, information days and programmes, such as “Start-up weekend”.
In 2022, the programme supported entrepreneurial activities in 104 schools. In recent years, more attention has also been paid to immigrant and senior entrepreneurship through international projects and initiatives by specialised organisations. For example, the first Slovenian Festival of Entrepreneurship was organized in 2021 by the Chamber of Crafts of Domžale, in cooperation with the Municipality of Domžale. In 2022, the five-day festival focused on senior entrepreneurship with the aim to build entrepreneurial competencies and establish inter-generational co-operation between youth and senior entrepreneurs. Green and sustainable entrepreneurship has also become a focus for entrepreneurship policy and programmes.
> “Entrepreneurship Is Female”
More than 1,500 Slovenian women have benefited from this governmental financial support programme designed for unemployed women, called “Entrepreneurship Is Female”, the programme has helped 90 per cent of participants to start their own business.
The project is 100 per cent funded by the Economy Ministry, while the Labour Ministry and the Employment Service provide 5,000 euros in subsidies for each participant. The participants get equipped with entrepreneurial knowledge to help them start out on their own entrepreneurial journey.
After completing the programme, the participants also have access to a number of free-of-charge assistance services provided by the state.
Slovenia is one of the smallest OECD member countries, but it has successfully transitioned to a high-income country after independence in 1991 and has continued to perform quite well since then. Slovenia’s economy grew an average of 3.2% between 2014 and 2019, which was well over the European Union (EU) average of 2.1%. Economic growth in the past couple years has mainly been driven by net exports and they are projected to continue driving growth.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Slovenia is overall doing better than most high-income countries in terms of perceptions and opportunities around entrepreneurship. For example, in 2018, 42.2% of the people in Slovenia reported the existence of several promising business opportunities, which is an exceptionally positive result.
However, despite the positive attitude and perceptions towards entrepreneurship, Slovenia’s Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activities (TEA), which measures the proportion of adults involved in starting or managing a business (less than 42 months old), is lower than the EU averages. In addition, gender and age continue to play a considerable role in the likelihood of people starting and managing a business. There are only 4.3 female entrepreneurs in Slovenia for every 10 male entrepreneurs. The highest TEA was observed in the age group of 25 to 34 years. Women and other underrepresented populations, still present untapped entrepreneurial potential.
CEED Slovenia has been actively providing training, consulting, mentoring, and ecosystem building for Slovenian entrepreneurs. The focus has been on developing opportunities and know-how for youth and women entrepreneurs in particular. Partners in funding the projects include the US Department of State and the Slovenian government. Recent achievements include launching the Global Leaders Initiative – to bring global best practices in entrepreneurship, and particularly technology-sector enterprises, to the Southeastern Europe region. and entrepreneurs active in the broader community.
The SEF (Javni Sklad Republike Slovenije za podjetništvo) offers financial support for newly established innovative enterprises. These incentives provide financial support to young enterprises in the first phase of development. ‘This is the most extensive group of newly established innovative enterprises that show potential for rapid growth and require favourable financial sources when starting out.’
Like through SPIRIT, the MGRT carries out various activities that promote entrepreneurship:
– General promotion of entrepreneurship as a social category and
– Measures to support entrepreneurship among other target groups (for example, women).
The SEF has created the programme – ‘Young Enterprises’, which provides support to enterprises that have been operating for less than 5 years that, due to their development and lack of a track record, have difficulty obtaining the necessary financial resources in the market.
Within this programme, the SEF offers special incentives to young enterprises that are at the beginning phase of development, have economic importance and are identified by a gap analysis as extremely vulnerable on the market.
The SEF offers the following:
– Seed capital – ‘Products designed for young enterprises with the potential for growth, and consequently for creating new jobs (especially young technological enterprises), and that are especially vulnerable in the early stages of development are provided to ensure that the business gets off to a successful start.’
– Microcredits for young enterprises – This provides enterprises within specific target groups access to favourable financing resources.
– Guarantees for young enterprises – ‘The SEF provides guarantees for bank loans with interest rate subsidies, which enables SMEs to obtain bank loans to implement projects in a faster, easier and cheaper manner.’
‘Young Enterprises’ contributes to the development of enterprises, the successful transfer of business development ideas into successful commercial undertakings and the creation of innovation-oriented enterprises with the potential for growth. It focuses on the development and commercialization of products, processes and services.
Recently, leading innovators have started to connect through the initiative Start:up Slovenia in order to create and strengthen national programmes for encouraging entrepreneurship and ensure that there is a comprehensive support network for launching and building start-up companies throughout Slovenia. Start:up Slovenia is an open platform that various organizations and individuals can join by providing a statement of support indicating that they wish to contribute to making Slovenia a dynamic, entrepreneurial and talent-friendly country. Programmes implemented by the initiative provide financial support (grants, guarantees, microloans, seed capital and venture capital) to encourage ideas, projects and start-ups. There are organized start-up weekends, and a national campaign that concludes with an international start-up and entrepreneurship event.