Norway: A Beacon of Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship

In focus: Some government initiatives, policies & schemes that are available for women entrepreneurs in Norway

Norway, a beacon of gender equality, stands as a living testament to what a society can achieve when women’s potential is fully realized. Often hailed as a global model, Norway’s progressive approach to gender parity serves as both an inspiration and a benchmark for nations striving to bridge the gender gap. Stepping ahead of its time, Norway made history by appointing the world’s first Gender Equality Ombudsman in the 1980s, marking the beginning of a transformative journey towards balanced representation and pay for women (not only in the public sector but also in the realm of private enterprise).

While the journey towards complete gender parity is an ongoing one, Norway’s dedication to equality is undeniable. With a robust legislative framework and a collective drive, the nation has propelled itself into the ranks of the most gender-equal economies globally. It’s a land where gender bias takes a back seat, and professional competence alone takes the driver’s seat – a fertile ground for foreign business women to thrive and make their mark without the shackles of gender discrimination. As we delve into the realm of women entrepreneurship in Norway, we uncover a landscape where innovation knows no gender and where the entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured without boundaries.

Here are some government initiatives, policies and schemes that are available for women entrepreneurs in Norway.

> The Norwegian Action plan

The goal of the Norwegian Action plan for more entrepreneurship among women, launched in 2008 – 2013, had the objective as follows: “The Government wants to prioritize the work with promoting entrepreneurship among women all over the country through creating a more gender equal and diverse industry. The point of departure is that a higher share of women entrepreneurs will contribute to more value creation, greater flexibility, more innovation and larger ability to adapt in the economy”. The Ministry of Trade and Industry published the action plan and also compiled an overview of the situation and development of the actions in the budget proposition.

Most of the initiatives aiming at promoting entrepreneurship among women were to be carried out through prioritizing women in the existing policy instruments/support system. If the initiatives is also specifically aiming at reinforcing the prioritization of women in the existing policy/support system through getting the ministries to formulate an allotment letter to the governmental agencies, which was clear on the prioritization of women and active work to increase the share of women in all programmes and services, set clear goals on the share of women in the programmes, report the levels of women in the programmes back to the government; and work to increase the share of women in the management. This was a tailored approach, with the potential of setting a feminist empowerment paradigm.

Norway would concentrate on four thematic priority areas:

  • women’s political empowerment,
  • women’s economic empowerment,
  • sexual and reproductive health and rights,
  • violence against women.

> WEgate

WEgate is a network of real opportunities for women entrepreneurs in terms of know-how, networking, and insights. It is a real community of women entrepreneurs driven by passion and a desire to change the market. Worldwide connections are facilitated by WEgate and its international partners. Constant market update is arranged through vertical webinars and exchange of ideas and insights among women from different sectors and countries. International initiatives are dedicated to the community, promoted by business angels and partner associations. Personal growth can be facilitated through the Wegate academy, which focuses on management skills, market trends and business evolution. Networking events that are organized blend business and leisure – to ensure genuine and fruitful moments of exchange.

> We-Fi

The WE-Fi secretariat sits within the World Bank. The objective of We-Fi is to address financial and non-financial constraints faced by women-owned/ led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in IDA and IBRD eligible countries and territories.

We-Fi aims to achieve this by mobilizing more than US$1 billion in commercial and international financial institution finance for entities that provide women entrepreneurs with access to debt, equity, venture capital, insurance products, capacity building, networks and mentors, and opportunities to link with domestic and global markets, and for governments to improve the business environment for women-owned/led SMEs.

> Business Women Oslo (BWO)

BWO is a company, supporting and empowering business women and professionals in
Oslo. They are passionate people-connectors, supporting, energizing, and empowering
female-led businesses in Oslo.

> Association of International Professional and Business Women Organization (AIPBW)

Association of International Professional and Business Women Organization website: AIPBW is a non-profit international network that unites, supports and promotes professional women in Norway. Originally, it was chartered in 1994 by a group of women with international backgrounds living in Oslo, Norway.

In fact, it is one of 18 networks across Europe comprising the European Professional Women’s Network, a Pan-European professional organization with more than 3,000 members devoted to women’s career development, entrepreneurship, networking and mentoring.

> Professional Women’s Network Norway (PWN)

PWN Norway is a community advancing gender-balanced leadership through high-level events, networking etc PWN Global is a global movement of people working towards gender balanced leadership through professional development and international, cross- industry, online and in-person networking.

With this Mentorship Program, they aim to contribute to the professional and personal development of women. We want to create a strong collaboration where women are empowering women with knowledge-sharing and honest commitment.

For aspirants, this is a good chance to gain valuable insights and guidance from accomplished women who have blazed trails and overcome challenges in their careers. The mentors come from diverse backgrounds, industries, and sectors, and they are committed to helping you build your skills, expand your network, and navigate the unique obstacles in Norway.

So, whether you are striving for career advancement, seeking work-life balance, or breaking through glass ceilings, the mentorship here provides support, and help you unlock your full potential.

> Business and Professional Women (BPW) FOLLO

Business and Professional Women (BPW) FOLLO, based in Norway, is an affiliate of BPW International, a global networking organization that brings together women entrepreneurs, business people and professionals from over 90 countries, thus, helping them achieve their full potential both in the workplace and in public life.

Members of BPW benefit from an international network of like-minded women, thought-provoking events, training and mentoring, awards and recognition, publicity, and also new business opportunities. BPW membership is open to women of all ages regardless of their profession.

> SkatteFUNN

SkatteFUNN is a tax credit scheme for businesses doing research & development (R&D) run by the Norwegian government’s trade department. It was and launched in 2002. In order to decrease the uncertainty for firms, Innovation Norway makes a pre-assessment of whether a project qualifies for support from the scheme.

Nearly half of the new SkatteFUNN projects in 2014 were carried out in businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

A big attraction for small businesses is that – firms can receive a cash-refund should the tax benefit exceeds the amount of tax liability, with about 75% of the value of incentives being paid out in this way to firms.


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