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Women Entrepreneurs encouraged to take the plunge

With figures demonstrating that women constitute just 34.4%1 of the EU's self-employed workforce, the potential for more women led businesses is huge and must be encouraged. The fact that 39.4% of women would choose to be self-employed compared to 50.2% of men shows that women are more reluctant to become entrepreneurs. Within this context, the European Commission in 2009 helped establish the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors whose aim is to have successful female entrepreneurs campaigning to inspire women to set up their own businesses. The second phase of the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors will be inaugurated today during an induction and networking event that is co-organised by the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the European Council.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "Europe must build on its small businesses. Supporting women entrepreneurs is essential to stimulate growth since the entrepreneurial potential of women has not yet been fully exploited. Our initiative will play an important role in encouraging women to take the plunge and launching their own businesses which will be good for them and great for a sustainable economic recovery.”

Studies have demonstrated that women in general create smaller but relatively more viable enterprises. They are also considered more cautious than men and possess better awareness regarding the risk of failure. As a result, women often get fully involved in businesses after a longer trial period. The EU Ambassadors help to overcome these doubts, and seek to encourage and inspire women to become entrepreneurs by relating their own experiences.

The European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors was inaugurated on 5 October 2009. Around 150 Ambassadors of female entrepreneurship from 10 European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden), selected via the relevant Commission’s call, met to network and attend the inaugural ceremony.

Following a second call for ambassadors, 12 new countries will today join the network: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and United Kingdom, bringing the number of ambassadors to 250. Her Royal Highness, Princess Mathilde of Belgium will hand out diplomas to the new ambassadors.


Since the initiation of The European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors, EU Member States have sought to promote female entrepreneurship. The following are examples of measures taken:

  • In Spain micro-credit, mentoring, coaching and grants programmes targeting female entrepreneurs have been established;

  • Latvia has set-up specific mentoring programmes;

  • Finland offers micro-credits and substitutes for the self-employed;

  • Austria and The Netherlands have a submitted an entrepreneur programme for women who require maternity, family or sick leave;

  • Romania organises women entrepreneurs’ days;

  • The UK has established a ‘Women’s Enterprise Ambassadors’ and the UK’s “Flying Start” programme encouraging entrepreneurship among women graduates.

The next step for The European Network of Female Entrepreneurship is to create a network of mentors in 2011 to provide an increased level of support for women entrepreneurs.

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