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  • 1. Fostering Gender Equality - Meeting the Entrepreneurship and Microfinance Challenge 1
  • 2. Microfinance, gender and entrepreneurship - definitions Microfinance Microfinance means offering financially excluded people and microentrepreneurs basic financial services like credit, savings and insurance. Such services are provided by specialised institutions that can be classified as banks (cooperative, commercial, microfinance or savings banks) and non-banks (financial cooperatives, non-profit companies and NGOs). Microfinance providers can also be categorised by the different target groups they reach: bankable clients (traditional start-ups and established microenterprises) and non-bankable clients (financially excluded, low-income people). As far as credit is concerned, the loan amounts are typically very small. However, within the context of the EU they can reach up to €25,000 depending on the target group and type of activities. (MFC/EMN/cdfa, From exclusion to inclusion through microfinance, 2007) Gender, Gender Equality, Gender Mainstreaming Gender is a concept that allows one to distinguish between sex, which is a biological condition, and gender, the characteristics, attributes and roles assigned by society to girls and boys, men and women. These characteristics and roles are learned through both formal and informal education and through messages presented through traditions, celebrations, religion and the media. Roles and attributes associated with men and women differ from one society to another and evolve over time. Gender Equality refers to a belief in the basic equal rights and opportunities for members of both sexes within legal, social or corporate establishments. Making the concerns and experiences of women as well as men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres is called Gender Mainstreaming. (adapted from Reeves, H./Baden, S, 2000, and UN Economic Social Council, 1997) Entrepreneurship The word entrepreneur originates from the French word “entreprendre” which means "to undertake." Entrepreneurship can be described as a behaviour that includes creativity and innovation, the readiness to take risk, the motivation to identify an opportunity and to pursue it as well as the capacity to realise it. Entrepreneurship produces new value, provides a positive contribution to economic growth and can contribute to fostering social and economic cohesion. The degree of entrepreneurship reflects a country’s framework conditions, cultural attitudes and government programmes (OECD, 2001; EU Green Paper, 2003). Although progress has been made, female entrepreneurs are clearly underrepresented in Europe. In most European countries, they represent less than a third of all persons involved in entrepreneurial activity. Contents Microfinance, gender and entrepreneurship - definitions........................................................................................2 Microfinance....................................................................................................................................................2 Gender, Gender Equality, Gender Mainstreaming...........................................................................................2 Entrepreneurship..............................................................................................................................................2 Contents....................................................................................................................................................................2 1 Project Background................................................................................................................................................3 2 Project Members....................................................................................................................................................3 3 Scorecard Methodology.........................................................................................................................................5 4 Scorecard Results...................................................................................................................................................5 4.1 General National Context for Entrepreneurship..............................................................................................6 4.2 Gender Equality in Society.............................................................................................................................6 4.3 Gender equality in labour market inclusion and welfare-bridge into self-employment..................................7 4.4 Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment .........................................................................8 4.5 Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship.........................................................................8 4.6 Gender Equality in Access to Finance ............................................................................................................9 5 Recommendations................................................................................................................................................10 5.1 Recommendations for Policy makers............................................................................................................10 5.2 Recommendations for Practitioners..............................................................................................................11 5.3 Recommendations for Finance and Funding Providers.................................................................................11 5.4 Recommendations for Researchers...............................................................................................................12 6 Country studies.....................................................................................................................................................13 Belgium..................................................................................................................................................................13 France.....................................................................................................................................................................15 Germany.................................................................................................................................................................17 2
  • 3. Hungary..................................................................................................................................................................20 Slovakia..................................................................................................................................................................25 Spain.......................................................................................................................................................................27 United Kingdom.....................................................................................................................................................29 1 Project Background The number of women who are self-employed in Europe is much smaller than that of men and the number of women entrepreneurs with employees is smaller still. Microcredit has proven across the globe to be an effective tool for engaging and assisting women to take their first steps into self- employment. The large majority (87.4%) of women entrepreneurs across Europe have microenterprises (Eurochambers, 2004). However, in Europe microfinance providers are not reaching proportionally as many women as in other parts of the world. The present working paper has been published for the Transnational Conference on “Fostering Gender Equality: Meeting the Entrepreneurship and Microfinance Challenge” on the 13th and 14th of December in Madrid, Spain, organised jointly by the European Microfinance Network and Women’s World Banking Spain. It presents the preliminary results of an extensive comparative study conducted by EMN in cooperation with nine of its members in eight European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Slovakia, Spain and United Kingdom. It is part of a 15-month EU funded project with the same title aimed at promoting female entrepreneurship in Europe. Beside the eight country studies and a global comparative report, the project includes a range of different activities such as the implementation and evaluation of pilot projects, the exchange of experience through so- called exchange visits, the production of a video film and the setting-up of a gender webpage on the EMN website (http://www.european-microfinance.org/gender_equality_en.php). The primary purpose of the comparative study is to give an in-depth analysis of the entrepreneurial environment for women in the eight European countries cited above. This is rounded off with background information about policy and programmes regarding female entepreneurship and self- employment at the EU level. The secondary purpose of the study is to incite discussion and encourage action with respect to the promotion of female entrepreneurship in Europe. The cross-country comparison aims to enable policy makers, funding providers, practitioners and researchers to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as good practices that can be adopted from other countries in order to promote gender equality in entrepreneurship and microfinance in their own countries. 2 Project Members • Women’s World Banking WWB Spain has provided personal and individual assistance to women entrepreneurs since 1989. WWB has helped women to obtain over 800 loans (21.2 million euro) through agreements with banks and has published several handbooks for female entrepreneurs. • WEETU, UK, launched the first microcredit peer-lending programme for women in the UK in 1998 and since that date has supported hundreds of women to start up in business. The Full Circle programme is viewed nationally as a centre of excellence and a model of good practice. • The Enterprise Fund Ltd (TEF) is one of the UK’s leading enterprise-specific microfinance organisations. More than 75% of its loans are made to businesses located in the UK’s most deprived communities and 31% of loans are made to women. • The Fonds de Participation in Belgium is a public federal financial institution fostering entrepreneurial spirit. It participated as an external advisor in two European projects in Belgium called “Diane1” and “Women 2FP6”. • The Réseau Financement Alternatif in Belgium promotes ethical finance. It has gained expertise in identification of best practice and evaluation of tangible problems and solutions of multiple initiatives. • In Slovakia, Integra has already ten years of experience in supporting the creation and development of microenterprises by women, with similar experience in Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Serbia. • In Germany, EVERS & JUNG combines research and consulting in financial services and participates in different national and European microfinance and business support networks, all targeting different topics of entrepreneurship. • In Hungary the OVK / Hungarian Microfinance Network (HMN) has provided SMEs including those led or owned by women with a wide range of financial and non-financial economic and SME development tools for more than ten years through its member organisations. • In Norway, NCN and the foundation Microinvest have been actively involved in the network for women entrepreneurs for the last two years. Since its inception in 2003 more than 50% of its microloans have been given to women entrepreneurs, mainly immigrant women. • The European Microfinance Network, EMN, has 57 member organisations from 21 European countries in November 2007. Created in 2003, its mission is to promote microfinance as a tool to 3
  • 4. foster self-employment and microenterprises for socially excluded people in Europe. EMN has led a range of transnational EU funded projects with its members. In 2005 EMN conducted a survey on women’s access to microlending programmes. 4
  • 5. 3 Scorecard Methodology The research methodology of the study is based on a multidimensional Scorecard tool that was originally developed by FACET B.V., EVERS & JUNG and nef1. The main benefits of this Scorecard are: - The combination of a sophisticated analysis of national environments for gender equality in entrepreneurship with the production of clear and easy to read outputs - The build-up of a transparent basis for comparison between different national situations - The possibility to identify national strengths and weaknesses as a starting point for policy recommendations based on mutual learning For each country, a research team assessed the environment for women entrepreneurs against key factors affecting female entrepreneurship. Those factors were grouped into the following six dimensions: General National Context for Entrepreneurship; Gender Equality in Society; Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion; Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship; Gender Equaltiy in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship; and Gender Equality in Access to Finance. Each dimension is divided into sub-dimensions with respective indicators. The indicators are coupled to a scoring in order to rate the application of gender equality in a country. Five was the highest and one the lowest achievable scoring. The results for each country were scored, calibrated and presented in a radar diagram. 4 Scorecard Results The results of the Scorecard seem valid for a first analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the policy environments for gender equality in entrepreneurship and microfinance in the surveyed countries. Due to restricted data availability and the pilot character of the project the results should not be understood as a resilient benchmarking of national environments and government policies for gender equality in entrepreneurship and microfinance. The following graph represents the main outcome of the study. General national context for entrepreneurship 5 4 Gender equality in access to 3 Gender equality in society finance 2 1 0 Gender equality in support Gender equality in labour structures for entrepreneurship market inclusion Gender equality in entrepreneurship Germ any Spain France UK Hungary Norw ay Belgium Slovakia 1 FACET BV, Evers & Jung, nef (2005): Policy measures to promote the use of micro-credit for social inclusion: Study conducted on behalf of the European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, unit E/2,Zeist. 5
  • 6. 4.1 General National Context for Entrepreneurship B ES F G The General National Context for Entrepreneurship HUN N SR UK Total 3.1 3.0 2.8 2.7 2.5 2.9 2.5 3.4 varies from the other five dimensions, as there is no Entrepreneurial explicit focus on gender aspects but rather on the opportunities 2.3 2.3 3.5 2.8 2.8 3.5 2.3 3.7 general framework for entrepreneurship. The scores Entrepreneurial are based upon an assessment of entrepreneurial abilities 4.3 3.3 2.5 3.3 2.3 2.0 3.0 3.3 opportunities, entrepreneurial abilities, enterprise Enterprise culture 3.0 3.0 2.3 1.5 1.0 3.7 1.5 3.3 culture, policy incentives for entrepreneurship, welfare bridges and access to finance. Policy incentives 3.6 2.6 2.6 3.0 2.0 3.6 2.5 3.6 Good environments for entrepreneurial Welfare bridge 2.3 3.4 3.0 3.2 3.5 2.3 2.8 3.5 opportunities, consisting of a relatively stable Access to macroeconomic situation, comparatively lean start- finance 3.5 3.5 2.8 2.5 3.4 2.5 2.7 2.9 up administration and markets that are open for new entrepreneurs to seize opportunities for start-up and business, were identified in the UK, Norway and France. Policy incentives for entrepreneurship can be set by the national tax system, the bankruptcy regulation, the administrational burdens for running a business and the regulations for hiring and firing employees. In general, the surveyed countries scored best on their bankruptcy regulation, with Belgium and Norway featuring the most generous solutions. The public support of entrepreneurial abilities was assessed regarding entrepreneurial education and public support structures for entrepreneurship at a national and a local/regional level. In Belgium, the national experts asked rated both the entrepreneurial education as well as the public support structure as being of good to high quality. In contrast, in Germany the public support structure for enterprise development is highly developed, but there is a low level of systematic entrepreneurial education that reduces the overall score. The entrepreneurial culture in the surveyed countries is characterised by a high impact of risk avoidance on the decision to start a business, and a lacking diffusion of entrepreneurial norms and values in the societies. Entrepreneurial attitude is not seen as a suitable issue for primary education in the majority of the surveyed countries. The highest scores were given to Norway, where risk avoidance impact is one of the lowest in Europe and the UK where entrepreneurial norms and values are deeper rooted in the society than in other countries. Welfare bridges into self-employment through the provision of income support exist in seven of the eight countries. Only Belgium does not feature such a scheme. However, the inclusiveness of these welfare bridges is limited. They are only available for some groups of welfare recipients, mostly those registered unemployed with short duration of unemployment. While more accessible non-financial support measures are widely available, the share of unemployed people becoming self-employed lies below the 10% threshold in all eight countries, with Germany and Spain featuring the highest rates. Access to finance was rated with regard to the access of SMEs to bank loans, public loans and microfinance2. For Spain the available data indicated the easiest access to finance for SMEs, while in Germany and Norway the situation seems to be the most difficult. In general, access to finance for SMEs is only average in the surveyed countries. Either entrepreneurs report difficulties in accessing the banking sector (Germany, Hungary) or they are only making limited use of soft loans and public support (UK, Slovakia). Microfinance sectors are most developed in France, Spain and Hungary, at least in terms of the numbers of providers and of loans provided per 100,000 inhabitants. 4.2 Gender Equality in Society B ES F G “Gender Equality in Society” covered political and HUN N SR UK Total 3.8 3.6 2.7 3.3 societal gender empowerment based upon an 3.1 4.0 2.9 3.8 Gender equality as assessment of gender equality as a policy issue policy issue 3.7 4.2 2.3 3.0 2.7 4.0 2.3 4.0 and socio-economic gender equality in society. Socio-economic The treatment of gender equality as policy issue gender equality in society 4.0 3.0 3.0 3.5 3.5 4.0 3.5 3.5 was rated on the basis of expert interviews that assessed the position of gender equality on national and regional policy agendas, the initiation of active policy measures with quantitative goals and if gender equality issues are included in local development strategies. The scores achieved are comparatively high, indicating that gender equality receives considerable attention from policy-makers in the eight countries. Long-term strategies featuring active measures with quantitative goals are nevertheless the exception. Most of the activity is subject to political trends and more symbolic than substantive in nature. Sustainable political activity can be observed in Spain, the UK and Norway on both a national/regional as well as a local level. France and Slovakia received the lowest scores, because of the missing link to local development (France) and lacking sustainability of policy measures (Slovakia). 2 Due to a change in the weighting of the indicators measuring the access to microfinance the scores displayed here differ slightly (+/-0.1) from the scores that are featured in the national reports (see annex). 6
  • 7. Indicators like the gender gaps in the share of the population being exposed to the risk-of poverty and the general amount of gender empowerment helped to assess the socio-economic gender equality in the society. The welfare systems seem to be apt to mitigate most of the higher socio-economic risks women still face in European countries in relation to men. Nevertheless gender gaps in risk of poverty after social transfers still exist in most of the surveyed countries. The only countries without a gender gap are Slovakia and Hungary where the risk of poverty exists on a high level but is shared relatively equally between the genders. Annually, the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assesses and combines different aspects of gender empowerment in a society. The surveyed countries scored relatively well on this indicator, with only Slovakia and Hungary falling behind. France was not fully included in the UNDP ranking; however, the reconstruction of the measure from other sources revealed an average value for France. Norway received the highest GEM score leading the 2006 UNDP ranking. 4.3 Gender equality in labour market inclusion and welfare-bridge into self- employment B ES F G HUN N SR UK Aspects of the general integration of women Total 3.4 2.2 3.3 2.3 2.7 3.3 2.0 3.0 into the labour market have been assessed Gender equality in including gender equality in participation in participation in the labour the labour market, the social infrastructure for market 3.0 1.7 2.7 2.0 3.3 3.3 2.0 3.0 gender equality in labour market inclusion Social infrastructure for and gender equality in welfare bridges from gender equality in labour unemployment and inactivity into self- market inclusion 3.3 2.5 3.7 1.6 1.3 3.7 2.0 3.0 employment. Gender equality in welfare The level of gender equality in labour bridge 4.0 2.3 3.7 3.3 3.3 3.0 2.0 3.0 market participation is not very high in the surveyed countries. The scores were based on the ratio of female vs. male economic activity rate, gender equality in income and gender equality in atypical work. Norway and Hungary received the highest scores, Spain, Germany and Slovakia the lowest. A female employment rate that meets the Lisbon goal of 60 per cent is realized only in Norway, the UK and Germany. The smallest gender gap 3 was observed in Norway (87%), while the biggest gap was found in Spain (65%). Gender pay gaps remain persistent in Europe. Belgium, the country that featured the lowest pay gap4, still exposed a difference of 7 per cent of the average hourly wage in 20055. The highest pay gaps were found in Germany and Slovakia with up to 24 per cent difference in hourly wages. To rate gender equality in atypical work, the study compared the difference between men and women regarding the share of involuntary part-time employment. Here, the picture is pretty gloomy, with only the UK and Hungary receiving average scores (about two times more involuntary part-time work by women). In Spain nearly six times more women than men work part-time involuntarily. In general, the social infrastructure for female economic activity is not well developed in the surveyed countries. Since women are still the main bearer of family duties, this sub-dimension concentrated on the provision of childcare facilities for the under threes, the impact of parenthood on employment rates, and the level of adequate social infrastructure for gender equality in economic activity. The public provision of childcare in particular is inadequate for a decent reconciliation of family and work for women. With the exception of Belgium and Norway the EU-goal of a 30 % coverage for the under threes has not been reached. In Norway and France, childcare and maternal leave regulations give women the best environment for staying economically active while building a family. Germany and Hungary received the lowest scores due to missing childcare facilities and high gender gaps in the impact of parenthood on employment. Gender equality in welfare bridges into self-employment was rated by looking at the gender equality in the receipt of unemployment benefits, in the movement into self-employment and the gender neutrality of the design of the income support schemes. Income support schemes are in place in most of the surveyed countries, helping unemployed people to become and stay self-employed. But, it is not clear if these schemes address the specific needs of women and men. None of the surveyed income support schemes can be called gender unequal by design. However, their focus on registered unemployed makes them less accessible to women than to men, since women receive unemployment benefits less often than men and receive lower sums of unemployment benefits due to persistent gender pay gaps. The highest gender gap can be found in Germany and the UK, where women are clearly underrepresented in the group of registered unemployment benefit recipients for all durations of unemployment. In Hungary and Belgium, women are equally represented or even overrepresented. Additionally, various data indicated that self-employment out of economic inactivity is a lot more 3 Measured as the female economic activity rate as per cent of the male rate 4 Measured as the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees 5 Belgian data on the pay gap varies between 7% for a population of all paid employees between 16 and 64 years who work at least 15 hours per week and 15% for fulltime employees in the industry and services. 7
  • 8. widespread for women than for men. Support schemes for these kinds of start-up projects do not exist in any of the countries. 4.4 Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment B ES F G HUN N SR The UK dimension “Gender equality in Total 1.8 3.5 2.7 2.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 3.0 entrepreneurship” covered gender equality in Gender equality in self-employment, entrepreneurial characteristics self-employment 2.0 3.0 2.7 2.7 3.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 and entrepreneurial culture to give a more Gender equality in complete picture of the entrepreneurial activity of entrepreneurial characteristics 1.5 4.0 3.0 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.0 4.0 women and men than simply comparing their Gender equality in rates of self-employment. entrepreneurial Gender equality in self-employment was rated culture 2.0 3.5 2.5 2.2 3.5 3.0 2.0 3.0 based on the gender equality in the rates of self- employment and the gender proportions in the GEM-measures Early Entrepreneurial Activity and Established Business Ownership6. Scores are relatively low for all the countries surveyed, because self-employment and entrepreneurial activity is still dominated by men in all countries. Hungary and Spain scored best with a score of 3.0 out of 5. The lowest scores were given to Norway, the UK and Belgium. Norway featured the highest gender gap in self-employment as a per cent of total employment and high gaps in the GEM measures. The UK features a higher gender gap in self- employment than the EU-25 average, too. Belgium on the other hand showed a very conflicting picture. It features a fairly moderate gender gap in the share of self-employed persons but very unfavourable gender relations in the GEM-measures. Gender equality in entrepreneurial characteristics looked at the entrepreneurial motivation, expressed in the ratio of opportunity vs. necessary entrepreneurial activity and at gender equality in the size of the entrepreneurial projects, expressed in the share of solo-entrepreneurs in the service sector. In general, the countries featured a moderate gender gap in the ratio of opportunity to necessity entrepreneurship. In France, the ratio is even better for women (2:1) than for men (1.5:1). In Belgium and Norway, the ratios for men are more than twice as high as those for women. Regarding the share of solo-entrepreneurs in the service sector, high gender gaps could be found in most of the countries. Gaps of more than ten per cent can be observed in Belgium, Hungary, Germany and especially in France. The lowest gap exists in Norway where the solo-entrepreneur share for women is only 2.9% higher than that for men. Standardized expert interviews were conducted on the media representation of female entrepreneurs and the acceptance of female entrepreneurship in the society to rate how much the entrepreneurial culture is characterized by gender equality. In general, the visible entrepreneurial role models are still male dominated in the surveyed countries. Media representation of female entrepreneurship was reported to be very low, with Spain and Hungary being the only exceptions. The acceptance of female entrepreneurship is only average in most countries, indicating that while being self-employed is increasingly viewed as a possible career option for women, the operating of a business remains an activity mainly connected with men. 4.5 Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship B ES F G HUN N SR UKThis dimension assesses whether Total 3.3 2.9 2.2 2.8 2.6 3.1 2.8 3.0 entrepreneurship promotion activities Entrepreneurship promotion and local support measures aim for activities aim for gender gender equality in entrepreneurship and equality in entrepreneurship 3.3 3.0 2.0 2.9 2.5 3.3 3.0 3.3 how adequate they are for bettering the Local support measures aim for situation in a country. gender equality in entrepreneurship 3.3 2.8 2.3 2.6 2.7 3.0 2.7 2.7 Entrepreneurship promotion activities are aimed at gender equality in entrepreneurship if the existent entrepreneurship promotion activities are designed to address the specific needs of both male and female entrepreneurs. Additionally, the amount of research on gender aspects of entrepreneurship, its impact on policy and practice and the availability of gender- disaggregated statistics on entrepreneurial issues was assessed and rated. In general, the scores given were only average with no country revealing an especially favourable situation. Gender mainstreaming in promotional activities seems to be seldom realised and if so, only in patchy form, with isolated activities specifically targeted at women. Norway received the best score in this category. Research activities on gender and entrepreneurship are more widespread, with Belgium receiving the 6 Early Entrepreneurship Activity comprises those persons actively involved in starting up a business or running a business not older than 42 months, while Established Business Ownership means running a business for at least 42 months. These two measures taken together form the Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA), the central measure for entrepreneurship in the GEM reports. 8
  • 9. highest score, but its impact on policy and practice is still unproven in most countries, including Belgium. To assess the gender equality of local support measures for entrepreneurship, national experts were asked to rate the amount to which business support measures are designed to consider the specific needs of women and men. Additionally, the number of specific support measures targeted at women and the number of local networking activities for female entrepreneurs was surveyed and rated. In general, the design of the majority of local support measures for entrepreneurship seems unsuitable to meet the specific needs of women and men. On the other hand, specific measures to support female entrepreneurship exist in adequate numbers in most countries. They are mainly concerned with networking and information providing, but also include specific business development services (BDS) and incubator services for female entrepreneurs. The highest score was given to Belgium where gender mainstreaming is as underdeveloped as in the other countries but the number of local networking initiatives by female entrepreneurs is higher. France received the lowest score due to the widespread “gender neutral” approach of support measures and weak developed networking structures on the local level. 4.6 Gender Equality in Access to Finance B ES F G HUN N SR UK Looking at personal financial resources used to Total 3.6 2.1 3.7 2.4 2.2 1.8 1.6 3.5 start a business, access to external finance and access to microcredit assessed the degree of Financial Resources 2.0 1.0 4.0 2.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 3.5 gender equality in access to finance for External Finance 4.0 1.0 3.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 4.0 entrepreneurship. The assessment of the gender Access to gaps in the access to and use of sources of Microfinance 4.7 4.3 4.0 2.3 4.7 2.3 2.7 3.0 finance was done in relation to the share of 7 women in the self-employed population. Gender equality in the need of external finance was assessed by considering gender gaps that exist in the availability of personal funds when starting a business and the level of overall capital needs at start-up. Important to note is that the perceived need for external finance may vary from the difference of total start-up capital and personal resources. Data availability for these indicators was restricted in some countries, due to missing statistics on the issue of start-up finance in gender-disaggregated form. Therefore no general picture for all eight countries could be deduced. Countries, where gender disaggregated data was found include Germany, France, Belgium and the UK. In general, female entrepreneurs have fewer personal financial resources available at start-up than men but also lower start-up budgets. In France, the gender gap in the availability of own financial resources at start-up is relatively small. This seems to be connected to the small pay gap, although this does not hold true for the high number of female entrepreneurs starting out of economic inactivity. Germany, in contrast, features a higher gender gap in the availability of personal funding than in star-up budgets, indicating a potentially greater funding gap for women compared to men. But similar to the situation in the UK, female entrepreneurs seem not to demand external finance in the amount that the data on their available personal resources and start-up budgets would suggest. Another focus was on gender equality in the access to external finance for enterprises provided by banks and public loan schemes. The share of women in bank loan clientele and main public loan schemes was compared to their share in total entrepreneurship. The access of female entrepreneurs to bank loans proved to be an especially difficult aspect to assess, since banks in all surveyed countries did not provide data about the gender of their business clients. Only anecdotal evidence about the problems of female entrepreneurs in receiving bank financing was available. These give the impression that female entrepreneurs face access barriers in all surveyed countries due to the male dominated approach of most bank officials regarding “credible entrepreneurship” and the small loan sums requested by women. For public loan schemes, data availability was better. The results showed a lower representation of female entrepreneurs in most countries with only Belgium and the UK featuring higher shares of women in their mainstream public loan schemes. Norway scored lowest, due to gender gaps of more than 10% in the majority of the surveyed loan schemes. The results show that women tend to start their business with fewer financial resources than men do. It is unclear whether this situation is the result of unequal access to finance or lower ambitions on the part of women. Probably both factors are playing a role. Low financing requests often falls below the rationality-cost threshold of banks and the loan scales provided by public loan schemes. Therefore women have to be seen as a main target group for microfinance. For fostering gender equality in access to finance and entrepreneurship, the study assessed how well developed the access to microfinance for female entrepreneurs is in the surveyed countries. A high share of female clients in 7 This measure is imperfect, because it builds in an “acceptance” of the significant gap between male and female start-ups and business ownership. In using this comparative measure, the report does not intend to condone the basic gender gap between women and men in entrepreneurship. However, it was not possible to find a better measure for assessing the financing gap. Therefore, the scores must be interpreted bearing this in mind. 9
  • 10. total loans, a high number of loans disbursed to women and the existence of specific microloan providers targeting female entrepreneurs received a favourable rating. In general, microfinance providers in the surveyed countries seem to reach women better than other providers of external finance. But there are still differences in the level of access women seem to have to microfinance. In Belgium and Spain the share of women in the group of microcredit clients exceeds that of women in total entrepreneurship, showing that the active providers in those countries are targeting women in an effective way. The highest number of microloans disbursed to women per 100,000 female self-employed can be found in Hungary (19.2) and France (18.6). Specialised providers focussing on female entrepreneurs exist in all countries with different degrees of activity and outreach. UK and Spain featured the most active institutions of this type. 5 Recommendations 5.1 Recommendations for Policy makers 1. Build supportive policy frameworks for inclusive entrepreneurship and viable microenterprises. Since female entrepreneurs are overrepresented in the group of small business owners, they would especially benefit from such environments on European, national and local levels. • The support of small enterprises and their creation should be treated as a cornerstone of the Lisbon Agenda for Growth and Jobs in order to exploit the full entrepreneurial potential of Europe’s multifaceted societies. • A national environment that promotes microenterprises includes simplified business regulation, income bridges out of unemployment/inactivity and access to small-scale finance. A stronger microfinance sector is an important building block in such an environment. • More than 700 EQUAL partnerships focussing on entrepreneurship have produced a huge reservoir of ideas on how to foster and promote inclusive entrepreneurship and support small business creation in local economies. They should be further developed into applicable policy measures at European, national and local levels. 2. Extend and develop the many existing initiatives for women’s entrepreneurship into full- fledged national strategies for women’s enterprise. • Such strategies should combine individual pronouncements, individual targets and agreements. Measures need visibility, clear financing and coherence across all regions of a country. • To develop such a national strategy, programmes and organisations undertaking gender equality or women’s enterprise support activities should be brought together. Lessons learned and good practices should be integrated into the strategy for nation-wide implementation. • A national strategy should have specific, measurable and time-bound goals and targets to monitor implementation, impact and to ensure accountability. A good example of such a powerful national strategy is the creation of the Women’s Enterprise Taskforce in the UK. (Link: http://www.womensenterprise.co.uk) 3. Initiate an active networking policy throughout your country that helps to bring more women into self-employment and stabilise newly created female led enterprises • Since contact to other female entrepreneurs is known to have a considerable impact on the entrepreneurial activity of women there is a need to foster more and lasting local networks between potential and established female entrepreneurs. • To strengthen the impact of such local networking measures it is recommended to improve their visibility through regional/national awards, contests and/or conferences. • To support the further development of gender equality in entrepreneurship it is also important to stimulate networking and information exchange between business support organisations targeting women, research facilities and other relevant actors in the field of female entrepreneurship. A good example for a national policy measure that fosters different networking activities on the national, regional and local level is the establishment of the Bundesgründerinnenagentur (bga) in Germany. (Link: http://www.gruenderinnenagentur.de) 10
  • 11. 5.2 Recommendations for Practitioners 1. Take account of the specific situations of women and men and the barriers they face • Practitioners need to take into account the specific needs of gender. They should adopt a gender aware approach to enterprise support including a strategic vision with specific objectives and targets. • Taking into account gender-based differences affects the ability to successfully start and grow a business. Practitioners should take account of the difference between a gender-aware and a gender-neutral approach. • Partnerships with organisations specialised in gender issues and the implementation of quality standards can improve the consideration of gender needs. In Slovakia, the Integra Foundation offers a broad range of business support services that are tailor-made to the specific needs of female entrepreneurs. In the UK Prowess, the women’s enterprise support network aims at engendering business support structures throughout the country. (Links: http://www.integra.sk; http://www.prowess.org.uk) 2. Establish locally available networking opportunities for women business owners • The prevailing majority of women’s businesses are microenterprises with a local focus. • Networks serve several purposes, such as mentoring, provision of role models, technical assistance and training. Lobbying activities can also be coordinated via networks. Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) is a networking organisation in the UK targeted at female entrepreneurs running business in rural areas that currently has over 70 local networks. (Link: http://www.wireuk.org) 3. Foster the exposure of female entrepreneurs in the media • People look up to role models, but little attention is given to female entrepreneurs in the media. The influence of media on female entrepreneurship should be further explored. • Ensure that the presentation of female entrepreneurs in the media gives a correct and complete picture of women’s businesses. The German magazine “Existenzielle” is the only national magazine for female entrepreneurs. It reports on women who manage small or big enterprises. (Link: http://www.existenzielle.de) 5.3 Recommendations for Finance and Funding Providers 1. Be aware of the specific needs of female entrepreneurs • (Public) schemes need to care more about women-dominated industries. They should take into account the differences in businesses started by women such as smaller business size, different credit needs, lack of assets/guarantees, and higher need for working capital. Loan assessment criteria used by banks are often unfavourable to women. • Providing adequate access to finance for female entrepreneurs is a cornerstone in increasing the share of women in viable entrepreneurship. • One possibility would be the promotion of programmes directed towards female entrepreneurs such as specialised financial support networks. The French network Femmes Business Angels (FBA) was established in 2003 with the mission to add female values to the image of business angels. (Link: http://www.femmesbusinessangels.org) 2. Adopt a strategy with respect to women’s entrepreneurship • Microcredit providers should integrate an understanding of gender differences in their daily work. This can be done with loan products tailored to women’s needs and the employment of specialised (female) staff in the loan provision department and management. WEETU is an enterprise, employment and training support service for women in the UK. It has been running its peer lending finance scheme, Full Circle, successfully since 1998 and now sells on a toolkit for other providers to start up their own peer-lending circles. (Link: http://www.weetu.org) 11
  • 12. 3. Ensure transparency in statistics • Gender-specific data has to be made available systematically for banks, public loan schemes and microfinance providers. • The revealed lack of gender aggregated data on loan provision by finance and funding providers makes it impossible to give an adequate picture of the respective financial markets. 5.4 Recommendations for Researchers 1. Increase research on the profiles of women entrepreneurs and of their companies • Research will help to better assess the situation of women entrepreneurs and to draw conclusion for future policy measures. • Deeper insights are needed to answer essential questions such as why do or do not women start and develop a business, and if women start a business with fewer financial resources due to lacking financial resources or due to lower financing needs. In 2006, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men asked the non-profit institution Sophia vzw to develop a database on gender studies in Belgium. It is meant to give more visibility to gender and women’s studies in Belgium and to develop an inventory on the part of education and research into gender. (Link: http://www.iefh.fgov.be) 2. Improve availability of comparable and gender disaggregated data on entrepreneurship • Gender disaggregated data should be present on a transversal basis throughout the EU. • This will increase knowledge about different values, roles, situations, conditions, aspirations and needs of men and women, their manifestation and interaction. 3. Develop a systematic research strategy • A systematic research strategy is needed to gain political impact. • The implementation of a European agency could serve as a hub in fostering such a strategy. In the UK, the Women’s Equality Unit (WEU) of the department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) works in key areas supporting gender equality such as the evaluation of the impact of policies and the contribution to the redesign/development of new policies and measures to improve gender equality (http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk). 12
  • 13. 6 Country studies Belgium General national context High Ranks for entrepreneurship Belgium 5 4 Belgium receives an average score of Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in 3.2. The dimension Gender equality in access to finance 2 society society receives the highest score of all 1 dimensions. The dimension Gender 0 equality in entrepreneurship and self- Gender equality in Gender equality in employment scores the lowest. support structures for labour market inclusion entrepreneurship Gender equality in entrepreneurship National Scorecard Results for Belgium vs. high ranks General national context for entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.1 The general Belgian entrepreneurial context has shown a positive evolution during these past years. On February 10th, 1998, the programme law for the improvement of independent entrepreneurship came into effect. In addition, a number of Royal Decrees were adopted for the realisation of this law. Yearly organised starters days, where future entrepreneurs can find all the information they need and where they can talk to specialists, were launched. More recently, the rules concerning the administrative formalities for starting an independent activity were made more flexible. Where financial means are concerned, a large number of Belgians do not find access to bank investment credits all that easy, which is mainly due to the cumbersome administration and the necessary data. However, even when a bank loan is denied, there are other institutions and means that can be relied upon, such as guarantees and microfinance. Still, Belgians do not spontaneously embrace the concept of independent entrepreneurship. This is caused by different factors, including the Belgian mentality towards independent entrepreneurship, fiscal pressure and the large differences between the status of the employees and independent entrepreurs in spite of the improvements that were already introduced. Also, the fact that unemployed candidates who want to start an independent activity lose their allowance at once does not enhance the attractiveness of entrepreneurship. Gender equality in society SCORE: 3.8 The social and cultural context in Belgium guarantees gender equality through the constitution. In 2002, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men was founded to fight discrimination and gender- based inequality. In addition, since 2007 every political decision must take into account the equal treatment of men and women, in other words gender mainstreaming at all decision-making levels. At all decision-making levels, the equality of men and women is taken into consideration. Gender equality in labour market inclusion and welfare bridges to self-employment SCORE: 3.4 Yet when we have a closer look at the equality of men and women on the labour market, we find that the salaries for men and women are not equal in Belgium nor is labour participation divided equally; Belgium has fewer female employees then male employees. In addition, more women work part-time. When they have a child, fewer women choose to go out to work whereas a child seems to stimulate men to work more. Possibly, that is partly due to a lack of childcare facilities. Recently, several measures were taken to expand the services. Recently, however, more children have been born which partially undoes these efforts. Also for female entrepreneurs, insufficient childcare possibilities seem to be an important obstacle. Gender equality in entrepreneurship and self-employment SCORE: 1.8 Where the participation in independent entrepreneurship is concerned, fewer women seem to opt for an independent career than men. Still, life as an independent entrepreneur has become a socially accepted career choice for women. Yet women are less encouraged and the media pays less attention to female entrepreneurs than to their male counterparts. Women account for 30% of the Belgian entrepreneurial population; compared with men, Belgium has fewer starting female entrepreneurs as 13
  • 14. well as established entrepreneurs. Their motives are largely the same as men’s. Women, however, find it more important to be able to organise their own work. Men and women mainly start a business by seizing an opportunity although women are presented with an opportunity less often than men. More women start a business out of necessity. When running a business, this business is usually smaller than that of the men and generates less income. Gender equality in support structures for entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.3 Entrepreneurship is actively promoted in Belgium in view of the limited number of self-employed. Apart from a few specific women-oriented initiatives, little or no distinction is made between the sexes; the approach is gender-neutral. Also, where support and guidance for (starting) entrepreneurs is concerned, no distinction is made between men and women. There are specific women-oriented projects, such as the “Affaires de Femmes, Femmes d’Affaires” project of Crédal that offers training, microfinance and advice. The Participation Fund (Fonds de Participation) does not offer a specific product for women. Still, the organisation is well disposed towards women, as shown by the increasing percentages of approved loans for women. Networks are also very important for women. Although Belgium has a number of networks for women, women are less often a member of a network than men. Gender equality in access to finance SCORE: 3.6 Access to finance does not appear to be the main difficulty for (future) entrepreneurs. Men and women often finance their business with a bank loan. But because of their aversion to risks, women use their savings to start their independent activity more often than men. Banks do not provide much or any gender-specific information. On the other hand, women have equal access to government loans, guarantees and microfinance. Recommendations - Childcare: Although the number of available positions in day-care centres has been expanded, the supply still does not meet the demand. Since employees as well as entrepreneurs are affected, it is worth the effort to investigate this problem further and to find a way to fulfil this urgent need. - Education: Compulsory participation in at least one entrepreneurship-promotion project could encourage Belgian youngsters to turn towards entrepreneurship. - Women in the media: Female entrepreneurs should get more exposure in the press and the media should give a correct and total picture of self-employed female entrepreneurs. - Support: Belgium does not make a (large) distinction between men and women when assisting starting entrepreneurs. Yet, a gender-specific approach could stress the aspects of entrepreneurship that women find important such as security. - Promotion towards specific target groups: The Belgians are still hesitant about self-employed entrepreneurship. A promotion campaign or initiatives for specific target audiences could be more successful, e.g. reintegration of women into the labour market. - Financial information: It is recommended that (financial) institutions release to the public at large their data and statistics with respect to men and women. 14
  • 15. France General national context High Ranks France receives an average middle for entrepreneurship France range score around 3. The 5 4 dimensions Gender Equality in Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare access to finance 2 society Bridges to Self-Employment (3.2) and 1 0 Gender Equality in Access to Finance (3.5) receive the highest scores of all Gender equality in Gender equality in support structures for dimensions. The dimension Gender labour market inclusion entrepreneurship Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship scores lowest (2.2). Gender equality in entrepreneurship National Scorecard Results for France vs. high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.8 The General National Context for Entrepreneurship in France is evolving, but reductions in social charges are not yet significant enough to encourage many of those working informally to register their businesses. The socio-cultural context in France does not favour entrepreneurial activity. France is below average for supporting individual success and does not have a culture of risk taking. Even so, attitudes are changing. A national policy or strategy to promote entrepreneurship does not exist. There are several government initiatives administered by different ministries and departments and at different levels. At regional and local levels there is often insufficient coherence and programme visibility. National public support structures to promote entrepreneurship also do not exist, but there are four structures with national networks and five providing financial support to financially excluded entrepreneurs. The financial situation of many entrepreneurs is difficult. Thirty-six percent of new businesses started in 2002 did so with less than 4,000 euros. France has strong support networks for those excluded from mainstream finance. It has the best microloan coverage in Western Europe and several loan guarantee programmes to assist the excluded to leverage bank finance. Gender equality in society SCORE: 2.7 Gender equality is on the national government agenda in several policy areas and appears to be a priority in two policy areas: Professional Equality and Political Representation. However there is a lack of measurable and time-bound objectives, which makes it difficult to monitor implementation and achievement of goals. In terms of economic well-being and professional equality, the risk of poverty is higher for women than for men in France, more women are unemployed than men, women earn less than men and they have fewer assets. Even so, France has one of the lowest pay gaps in Europe and addressing the pay gap is high on the government agenda. Nevertheless, experts report little real progress due to inadequate government budgets and insufficient will on the part of many employers. For political representation, important advances were made during the recent legislative elections with France moving from 21st to 15th position amongst EU 25 countries. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 3.3 France has one of the highest female activity rates in the EU and one of the lower gender income gaps. However, looking more closely at this rate, one-third of French women (as compared to 6% of men) work part-time. Of female part-time workers, 40% work part-time by necessity because of insufficient means for reconciling family and work life. There is a 10% negative labour market participation difference between women with children and women without children. While over-three childcare provision rates are amongst the highest in Europe, only 20% of children in the under-three age group are in publicly funded childcare. Compared to other countries in the study, there is above average gender equality in access to welfare bridges from unemployment to employment. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 2.7 France has one of the lowest rates of female participation in entrepreneurial activity amongst OECD countries. According to the most reliable INSEE SINE data for 2002, the rate of female start- ups and business take-over is 29%, lower than in 1998. Women’s businesses also experience greater failure rates than men’s businesses three and five years after launch. This is the result of different factors. Social infrastructure available to salaried workers is not available to the same extent to the self-employed. Childcare availability, hours and waiting list systems are generally not designed for 15
  • 16. entrepreneurs. Women are also less likely to start their businesses in a sector where they have previous experience and qualifications. In addition, women start businesses in person-to-person services and retail trade, highly competitive sectors with low profit margins. Women also start their businesses with fewer physical assets and financial resources than men do. In addition, women tend to have modest business growth objectives. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.2 Progress is needed to achieve Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship. There are important gender differences in entrepreneurship in France yet at present there is no national strategy for addressing these. The agreements signed by the former government’s Ministry for Parity at the end of 2006, whilst significant, are not supported by an analysis of women’s entrepreneurship and they are not joined together by a single vision or set of targets for women’s enterprise. Several interesting initiatives tailored to women’s specific training, advice and support needs are being implemented, however. These initiatives exist thanks to the particular interests of local staff and funding available in individual regions and departments. In many instances EU Equal Programme resources support these efforts. However, training and support developed specifically for women entrepreneurs do not exist on a nation-wide basis. In addition, adapted services are not provided in a consistent nation-wide manner by structures working with both sexes. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 3.7 Gender Equality in Access to Finance proved difficult to assess. Women tend to start their businesses with fewer resources than men do and are more likely than men to start their businesses with 2,000 euros or less. Women access government entrepreneurship assistance programmes for unemployed persons at rates slightly above the national female entrepreneurship rate of 29%. Amongst the various actors, microlenders are reaching women at the highest rates. These organisations are reaching women at a rate three to six percentage points above the national female entrepreneurship rate. Nevertheless, given that microcredit aims to reach those at greatest risk of social and financial exclusion, one could argue that the lending rates should be much higher. Recommendations 16
  • 17. Government /Policy makers - A National Strategy for Women’s Entrepreneurship is needed. This strategy should link together individual government pronouncements, targets and the agreements signed in 2006. - Government should increase its efforts to promote entrepreneurship skills such as risk taking, creativity and experimentation. Current entrepreneurship training and education initiatives in secondary schools should be made available nation-wide and at primary level. In addition, special programmes to encourage girls to choose scientific, technology and business-related degrees should continue. - Childcare provision options for families where one or both parents are business owners need to be explored. - There are very few role models and women business owners are under-represented in the media. Government, the business community and the media can reinforce efforts to improve the social legitimacy of entrepreneurship and women’s enterprise. - There is a need for networking opportunities for women business owners to be available wherever women reside. In addition, a strategy needs to be found for ensuring that through these networks, the concerns of women entrepreneurs are heard at a national level. In so doing, networks should not lose sight of the fact that 90% of women’s businesses are microenterprises. Practitioners - Training and awareness-raising aimed at practitioners regarding the importance of adopting a gender-aware approach to enterprise support is recommended. Like government, practitioners also need to adopt a strategic vision for women’s enterprise with specific objectives and targets. They also need the political will to implement them. Finance and Funding Providers - Access to finance for female entrepreneurs is a challenge. The most important gender gap exists in the volume of financial resources used at the outset. Efforts to make the government guarantee fund to improve women’s access to bank lending available to more women should continue to be encouraged. For microcredit, providers would be better able to reach women if they developed a strategy with respect to women’s entrepreneurship. French microlenders should aim to reach women at rates at least equivalent to women’s representation in the population. Researchers - Strong links between universities, the national statistics agency INSEE and APCE could serve to address the lack of analytical and longitudinal work on women’s entrepreneurship. Germany Germany is not outperforming in any of the dimension scorings. On General national context High Ranks average it receives a middle range for entrepreneurship Germany score below 3. The dimension 5 4 Gender equality in society receives Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in the highest scoring of all dimensions, access to finance 2 society yet it is not stunning and only 1 0 average compared to results of the Gender equality in other countries in the study. The Gender equality in support structures for dimensions gender equality in labour entrepreneurship labour market inclusion market inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment as well as Gender equality in gender equality in entrepreneurship entrepreneurship score lowest, leaving lots of potential to improve the environment for National Scorecard Results for Germany vs. high ranks women entrepreneurs. General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.7 Although GDP growth has been below the OECD average during recent years, the GDP per capita and the net real income per capita in Germany are still well above the OECD average. The public support structure for enterprise development in Germany is comparatively well developed. The physical infrastructure is among the best in the world. The level of entrepreneurial culture in Germany is low compared to the other countries in the study. In particular, the impact of risk avoidance behaviour on entrepreneurial activity is stronger than in other European countries. Administrative burdens for conducting business activity are traditionally high in Germany, although recent reform efforts have improved the situation. Income support programmes for self-employment out of (registered) unemployment are in place and have led to high numbers of start-ups out of unemployment in recent years. The access to external finance for start-ups in Germany has worsened rapidly during recent years. In particular, micro and small enterprises face greater difficulties compared to medium-sized enterprises. A national microfinance sector is not well developed yet. 17
  • 18. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 3.3 Gender equality as such is rising on the national governmental agenda in Germany. But on the local level, according to the experts asked, gender equality and especially gender equality in entrepreneurship is not treated as a priority issue in local development strategies. Socio-economic gender equality in Germany is more highly developed than in other countries, but women still face a greater risk of poverty than men, especially lone parents. Women are still under-represented in leadership and decision-making positions in government, legislative bodies and managerial positions. The higher the position the more they are underrepresented. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 2.3 Women’s participation in the German labour market is far from being equal to that of men. While Germany exhibits an average female activity rate compared to other EU member states, the gender pay gap is still one of the highest across Europe. A significant part of this gap is the result of wage discrimination, especially in Western Germany. Additionally, there exists a clearly visible gender gap in the employment impact of parenthood. This is connected to persistent role models and lack of infrastructure for reconciliation of family and work. Different European reports rated the provision of childcare services for under-threes in Germany as highly inadequate. Although the subject is now high on the government agenda, progress in this area is slow. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 2.3 Statistical data for Germany indicate a bigger gender gap in self-employment than the EU 25 average at relatively low rates of overall self-employment. The gender gap is even higher in early entrepreneurship activity, as defined by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Part-time self- employment and solo-entrepreneurship are much more prevalent among women than men in Germany. This is one reason why the average number of employees and the average annual turnover of women-led enterprises are distinctively smaller than those of enterprises led by men. Regarding the entrepreneurial culture, German society is still dominated by a rather traditional picture of male role models, which is also reinforced through the media. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.8 The consideration of specific needs of women and men is not very widespread in the design of mainstream promotion activities for fostering entrepreneurship in Germany. The number of specific programmes targeting women or programmes taking women‘s needs into account is not sufficient yet and needs to be enlarged. Systematic and regular research activities on gender aspects of entrepreneurship do exist in Germany, though experts are critical that statistics on gender aspects and gender disaggregated data are only available on a limited scale and do not cover all relevant aspects. There are some innovative examples of the use of gender research results to improve policy measures and the practice of the support structures for entrepreneurship in Germany. But this is still the exception. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 2.4 It can be stated that, on average, female entrepreneurs have lower capital needs and use less own financial start-up resources than their male counterparts in Germany. Regarding access to bank finance, it can be stated that women make fewer credit applications than men in Germany and experts report a difficult situation for women in communicating with banks. Additionally, latest available statistical data reveal a declining share of female entrepreneurs in the mainstream programmes of public financing. In regard to this, given the overrepresentation of women in socially excluded groups like single parents at the risk of poverty and the high number of female start-ups out of economic inactivity, female entrepreneurs can be considered as a key target group for microlenders in Germany. Nevertheless, the limited available data support the thesis that the full potential is not tapped yet. Summing it up, the study revealed that there is a strong case in Germany for - Fostering strategic policy options on gender equality in entrepreneurship at all levels: government, financial service providers and business support organisations - Promoting female entrepreneurship and - Increasing the share of 7,6% self-employment in total female employment to at least the male share of 14%. The recommendations that follow have been developed from the findings of the project and are aimed at four key groups: policy makers, practitioners, funding providers and researchers. This is because all 18
  • 19. four constituencies have a role to play in improving economic and social opportunities in general and for women in particular in Germany. Key Target Group Policy recommendations Government /Policy makers - Create better conditions for reconciliation of family and work - Foster gender mainstreaming in society and the labour market - Invent policy measures for more gender equality in wages - Consider specific gender needs in the design of support programs - Foster networking with successful businesswomen - Make welfare bridge support available to people becoming self-employed out of inactivity - Enforce systematic data collection - Set incentives for gender specific quality standards in institutions providing Business Development Services (BDS) Practitioners - Develop and implement quality standards for the provision of BDS - Increase awareness of women in German business life Finance and Funding - Collect gender-aggregated data on a regular basis Providers - Enable access to gender-specific statistical data - Take gender-specific needs into account in the design of financial measures Researchers - Channel research on female entrepreneurship in a more systematic way - Conduct consistent research as regards financing of women entrepreneurs Since female entrepreneurs display very distinctive characteristics, a “one size fits all” strategy does not seem capable of changing this situation. Policy instruments should rather be based on the experiences in other countries with similar problems. The approach of the project on the European level will help in the task of identifying such options. Hungary Hungary is in the middle range in the dimension scorings. On average it receives scores between 2 and 3. General national context High Ranks The dimension Gender equality in for entrepreneurship Hungary society receives the highest score of 5 all dimensions; still this is exceeded 4 Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in by three of the other countries in the access to finance 2 society study. In most of the dimensions, 1 Hungary ranks 3rd or 4th among the 0 eight compared countries, however in Gender equality in Gender equality in the dimension General National support structures for labour market inclusion entrepreneurship Context for Entrepreneurship it ranks last. This problem is generally Gender equality in recognised in Hungary and is high on entrepreneurship the national agenda. National Scorecard Results for Hungary vs. high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.4 Although economic growth and exports have developed favourably in Hungary over the past few years; the extremely high level of budget deficit and other negative trends required immediate measures. The convergence programme of Hungary, which was adopted by the EU Commission, includes strict fiscal policy, laying significant financial burden on the population and enterprises; slowing down economic growth and increasing inflation. However, as a positive change, reforms have been started to decrease the administrative burdens of enterprises; these resulted in Hungary jumping from rank 66 to rank 45 on The World Bank’s Doing Business list from 2007 to 2008. The level of entrepreneurial culture is low and is improving slowly. Enterprise development institutions have been in existence for a while but they operate inefficiently due to the poor regulation, the parallelisms and lack of cooperation. Well-designed programmes to support future entrepreneurs do exist; but their funding is limited. Financial institutions are still not involved enough in easing the microenterprises’ 19
  • 20. lack of resources. The number and total amount of loans has been improving; but the number of loans with duration over one year is still very low. The microcredit scheme of the Enterprise Development Foundations in the counties and the capital city (LEA Network) aims to provide funding to these businesses, but only a fraction of needs can be fulfilled due to the lack of funding and flaws of central regulation. These foundations were established in the framework of EU Phare programme in 1991. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 3.1 The Hungarian Parliament and the government have made laws that provide legal and institutional foundations for women’s equality. Thanks to that, the number and activity of NGOs is increasing. Still, women are underrepresented in leadership and decision-making positions both in the public and the private sector and there is a pay gap of about 11% between men and women. Hungary’s midrange position in the world concerning gender equality is primarily due to the historical traditions and the traditional roles that still exist in the social division of labour. On regional and local level, fostering gender equality has only become an important issue recently in the Regional Operational Programs. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 2.7 The situation of women on the labour market is still far from being equal to men. The share of part time employment, which fits women’s social situation better, is very low. The activity rate of women in Hungary is below 50% while the rate of men is above 60%. Compared to other European and OECD countries, paid maternity leave is long and the childcare service network is good but its occasional lack still creates a handicap for women on the labour market. Compared to OECD countries, per capita funding of the social network is still high both in absolute terms and relative to the GDP. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 3.0 In Hungary, men own twice as many enterprises than women. A significant share of female enterprises starts practically without or with a very low amount of capital. The owners of these can be considered self employed according to international definitions. By international comparison, the share of self- employed is high both among women (19.4%) and men (23.7%); many of them become entrepreneurs out of necessity. 8% more women become entrepreneurs out of necessity than men. Businesses owned by women tend to be more cautious; they generally hire fewer employees, but they also fire an employee less willingly. Low representation of women in the media plays a role in the fact that they also have a small share in the politics as well. According to international comparisons, Hungarian families are the most characterised by the traditional division of labour, the overburdened situation of women and acceptance of these facts by the people affected by them. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.6 Since the EU accession in 2004, the number and financial background of programs and measures enhancing equal opportunities for women in enterprise development have increased significantly. With the support of the Phare programme and later the individual Operational Programmes and other EU- funded initiatives several programmes have been launched to help the successful founding and development of female enterprises. There is no gender discrimination among business development services provided by the LEAs to microenterprises; in general there are very few BDS services targeted at female entrepreneurs. Amongst the 65,000 registered NGOs in Hungary there are only 60 that aim to represent women or consider themselves female organisations. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 2.2 Women own about one-third of microenterprises and 46.4% of them believe that they do not need external funding. The need for external resources and the manager’s willingness to take external funding generally increases in accordance with the size of the company. Lower willingness and ability of women to take loans is indicated by the fact, that while among microenterprises their share is 35%, less than 30% of the microloans are granted to them. According to the experiences of the microloan scheme targeted at female entrepreneurs that was launched in the framework of this project, positive discrimination (in the form of lower interest rates) is a proper way to encourage female entrepreneurs. Summary: • There are significant opportunities in promoting female entrepreneurial activity to improve the economic development and increase the employment level in Hungary. • Female entrepreneurs could and should be encouraged by positive discrimination in counselling programmes and supported microloan programmes to take higher risks (make greater investments). 20
  • 21. • For that, business development institutions that support microenterprises (also those owned by women) should be strengthened and developed by the government. Recommendations: Government /Policy makers - Positive discrimination of women in support programmes instead of the gender neutral approach - Encourage creativity in the school system; teaching and development of entrepreneurial skills - Increase women’s representation in the media to improve social acceptance of female entrepreneurship - Complete the programme of reducing administrative burdens for enterprises - Programme to support becoming an entrepreneur from unemployment should be improved and funded - Social benefits and microloans should be provided for those who become self-employed (from unemployment) - Better emphasise indirect methods of business support and develop the support transfer network and promote equal opportunity - More care should be given to the design and the funding with regards to creating business development programmes Practitioners - Quality evaluation of BDS providers, creating nationwide networks of them - Promote the networking of female entrepreneurs with the development of network cooperation and management of LEAs - Create forms of cooperation among business support organisations Finance and Funding Providers - Strengthen network cooperation of microfinance organisations - Create an online database with gender specific data and make it widely available - Design microloan schemes considering the needs of female entrepreneurs, using the experiences from the pilot project as well - Strengthen international cooperation and exchange of knowledge Researchers - More systematic data collection on female enterprises with cooperation of universities, research institutes and professionals; international cooperation in research Norway General national context High Ranks for entrepreneurship Norway 5 Norway received an average 4 Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in score of 2.9 on the Scorecard. access to finance 2 society The dimension Gender Equality in 1 Society received the highest score 0 of 4.0 and the dimension Gender Gender equality in Equality in Access to finance Gender equality in support structures for received the lowest score of 2.0. labour market inclusion entrepreneurship Gender equality in entrepreneurship National Scorecard Results for Norway vs. high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.9 In the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Norway is rated as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in Europe. In contrast to EU countries, where only small changes have been observed in early phase entrepreneurship from 2004 to 2006, Norway has increased its index from 7.1 in 2004 to 9.1 in 2006. The entrepreneurial opportunities, enterprise culture and policy incentives for entrepreneurship score relatively high, whereas there is still a way to go concerning entrepreneurial abilities, welfare bridges and access to finance. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 4.0 21
  • 22. Gender equality is an issue in governmental policy in Norway, at a regional level the picture is more fragmented and at a local (municipality) level these issues are in focus to an even lesser degree. On the UNDP HDR Gender Empowerment Measure Norway is ranked number one. Still, a number of challenges to gender equality remain and new gender issues keep surfacing. In Norway, gender- specific measures focusing on correcting the imbalances between the genders can be targeted at men too. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 3.3 In general labour force participation in Norway is high, and in 2005, 69% of women aged 16-74 belonged to the labour force, for men this rate was 76%. (Women and Men in Norway, 2006) Women earn less than men, and more women than men work part-time. The gap in earnings is partly due to part-time work, but also because women more often than men tend to work in the lower paid public sector, while men work in the private sector. Norway has one of the best parental leave systems in the world, and the policy for kindergartens has improved a lot in recent years. In Norway there is theoretically no gender inequality in the design of welfare bridges. But as women earn less than men and more often work part-time, this inevitably leads more men than women to be entitled to benefits based on work hours and income. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 2.7 As mentioned, Norway scores high on the 2006 GEM index, but there still is a great gap between men and women. 21% of Norwegian men are business owners, whilst the number for women is 9%. One of the reasons for this gap could be that the parental leave for sole trader businesses is not as good as it is for employees. This may keep young women away from starting up their own businesses. A study of media representation of women’s entrepreneurship in Norway (Ljunggren & Alsos, 2007) showed that only 9% of the articles in the newspaper dealing with entrepreneurs are about female entrepreneurs. This leaves us few role models and a low culture for women entrepreneurs. There are few networks and associations for female entrepreneurs in Norway, and there is no nationwide association which organises this group. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.1 The latest overview of the policy directed towards promotion of entrepreneurial activities and local measures for gender equality in entrepreneurship in Norway is from 1999 (Pettersen et al. 1999). This overview indicated that quite a few support measures are gender neutral, but that the consequence of this is that they are “male support schemes”. The reason for this is that the industries and activities supported are the industries and activities within which men start-up their businesses. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 1.8 Gender plays an important role when it comes to the differences in the amount of loan and equity capital raised to develop a new business. According to Alsos et al. (2006), there are no differences in the amount of financial capital men and women entrepreneurs report they need to start up and develop their business. But they did find that women managed to raise a lower amount of total financial capital both at the time of registration and 19 months later. There is no research or study on bank financing and women entrepreneurs. A small study on Venture Capital funding revealed an industry with few women present in decision-making positions and priorities of industries which are male-dominated. Women-dominated industries are not perceived as innovative and this is one of the reasons why women entrepreneurs are excluded from most of the existing public finance measures. A study of Innovation Norway grants for entrepreneurs showed that, in spite of a body of rules stating that women entrepreneurs should receive 40% of the grants, they managed to allocate only 34,8% of the grants to women. Recommendations 22
  • 23. Government /Policy makers - Raised awareness in schools, media and society about untraditional educational choices for boys and girls - Use of role models - Show successful female entrepreneurs in media - Prize for “the female entrepreneur of the year” - Support women’s business networks - Contribute to a nationwide association for women entrepreneurs’ networks - Self-employed people have to be offered equal rights to employees. - Renewed awareness on gender mainstreaming and special efforts towards women in policy - Support schemes for sectors in which women start up businesses (e.g. trade and service) - Strengthen the work at the municipality level to support entrepreneurs - The perception of the concept of innovativeness needs to be updated within the business support system; this will allow women’s businesses to be regarded as innovative and in a position for public measures. Practitioners - Involve immigrant women to a larger extent in self-employment and by doing so, use their resources Finance and Funding Providers - New financial measures must be introduced, e.g. Venture capital fund for potentially high- growth service businesses - Access to finance for women entrepreneurs regardless of geographical location Researchers - A research programme specifically aimed at gender and entrepreneurship - Studies on banking and financing - More knowledge about microcredit organisations 23
  • 24. Slovakia Women entrepreneurs in Slovakia continue to struggle General national context High Ranks with business start up issues. for entrepreneurship Slovakia Creating an enterprise is not 5 something that normally occurs 4 Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in to a woman who is in access to finance 2 society inadequate employment, 1 unemployed or returning from 0 maternity leave. Access for Gender equality in women to formal business Gender equality in support structures for support structures is very entrepreneurship labour market inclusion limited. There are very few dedicated support structures Gender equality in for women’s entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship and those that exist reach only a small number of women entrepreneurs. National Scorecard Results for Slovakia vs. high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.5 The General National Context for Entrepreneurship in Slovakia is growing, though in a complex and uneven manner. Slovakia has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the EU (currently 9,2%). Unemployment in major centres like Bratislava and Kosice is low. Starting a business is steadily becoming easier and the strong economic growth allows many opportunities for entrepreneurship. Market opportunities are more challenging, as the country becomes more globalised. General entrepreneurship abilities remain quite low outside the main centres, with almost no enterprise training in schools, and residual high risk avoidance in the general population, left over from communism. Policy support for enterprise has become quite strong, yet this strong economic growth is not spread evenly across the country. Some areas retain stubborn unemployment of more than 25%, and the taste for entrepreneurship as a solution drops markedly in rural areas. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 2.9 Gender Equality in Society benefits from a tradition (under socialism) of formal equality. Though, in practice this does not easily translate into entrepreneurial opportunities. There is no national strategy in place for the support of women’s entrepreneurship, nor are there specific policy measures. In 2006, 21% of Slovaks lived at risk of poverty, and of this number, 47% were women. In terms of female legislators, senior officials and managers, female professional and technical workers, the Gender Empowerment Measure of UNDP was below 0.6, which indicates significant gender inequality. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 2.0 Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment continues to be average to below average and is affected by significant pay gaps between men and women. Slovakia rates quite high in overall female economic activity (75% of the male rate). On the other hand, 75% of all part-time workers are women. There is a gender income gap of 21%, which is influenced by sector, profession and working time. A large number of women work in lower paid jobs in the civil service, education, health or social sectors. Slovakia has a relatively low birth rate, yet Slovakia ranks low in the provision of childcare, which affects women’s ability to engage in economic activity. There is a statutory 36 month maternity leave, though in practice, it is very difficult for a woman to re-enter the labour market after this. There is no discrimination in terms of receipt of welfare payments, though there are no specific welfare payments designed to assist movement from welfare to self-employment, and the loss of welfare benefit serves as a disincentive to self-employment. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 2.3 Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment tends to be below average, with female entrepreneurship at 30%. There is no reliable data on female enterprise start ups, though women’s businesses tend to start small and remain small. 19% of men are self-employed compared with 11% of women and there are few well-known women entrepreneurs. In terms of media exposure, this survey only registered 8 media entries in the past year about women’s entrepreneurship. However, women 24
  • 25. entrepreneurs known to the researchers typically encountered barriers when dealing with men in business. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.8 Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship tends to be below average, with only three small programmes specifically designed for women’s entrepreneurship. Only one of these (an NGO) provides finance for women entrepreneurial start-ups. The total number of clients in these programmes is less than 1000. In general, there is not equal presentation of female and male images in the business media, and the only specific activities for women are provided by two relatively small NGOs. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 1.6 Gender Equality in Access to finance remains a serious obstacle for women entrepreneurs. As noted, there are only two small schemes that provide finance to women entrepreneurs, with only one offering finance to start-ups. There is no gender-specific research regarding access to finance, but the two programmes noted, have together provided a total of less than 750 loans to women, which is a very small number. There remains a strong need in Slovakia for the following: - Specific policy measures in support of female entrepreneurship - Increased access to finance for business start-ups by women - Programmes that provide women with business development services that are geared to the types and sizes of business women tend to start. Recommendations: Key Target Group Policy recommendations Government /Policy makers - The state should change social security and health insurance policies that are punitive (i.e. No overlap between when a woman leaves benefit and starts her business.) and which in this way discourage the move from unemployment to entrepreneurship. - There is a need to develop affordable child-care structures with the needs of women business owners in mind. - The secondary school curriculum should make space for basic entrepreneurship training and orientation, available to both girls and boys. Practitioners - There is a continuing need for women-focussed support structures for supporting start-up and ongoing enterprises. These should be extended to the most economically needy areas. - There is a need to promote and highlight entrepreneurship as a response to unemployment or underemployment among women, using women-focussed media. - Networks of women in business should be promoted and supported. - An increased emphasis on accessible business development services should be provided with women in mind. Finance and Funding - There remains a need to enable access to finance for women Providers start up entrepreneurs, whether through access to credit or the use of grant or guarantee schemes. Researchers - There is almost no-gender specific research on female entrepreneurship, which makes policy development difficult. 25
  • 26. Spain General national context High Ranks Spain receives an average for entrepreneurship Spain middle range score of 2.9. The 5 dimension Gender Equality in 4 Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in Society receives the highest access to finance 2 society score of all dimensions (3.6), 1 whereas the dimensions 0 Gender Equality in Labour Gender equality in Market Inclusion and Welfare Gender equality in support structures for Bridges to Self-Employment labour market inclusion entrepreneurship and Gender Equality in Access to Finance scores lowest (2.2). Gender equality in entrepreneurship National Scorecard Results for Spain vs. high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.0 General business conditions are reasonably good and public support for entrepreneurship is helping to create favourable conditions for entrepreneurship. But policy incentives are still insufficient: many entry barriers to starting a business still exist, mainly the length of administrative processes, the high number of procedures to register a company, and the social discrimination in comparison with other workers. A new Law on self-employment should improve these conditions and give a real status and rights to self-employed people. Education is another important issue for promoting entrepreneurship because quality of entrepreneurial education remains insufficient. But a political, social and intellectual change favourable to modifications in entrepreneurial norms and values is observed, as well as a rising spread of information aimed at sensitizing society to entrepreneurship. Wage employment is still the usual answer to unemployment, therefore promotion of self-employment by job centres / employment agencies should be improved. Access to financial resources for start-up finance remains a problem: Spanish entrepreneurs usually use their own funds to start their business, but access to microfinance is satisfactory. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 3.6 Gender Equality in Society has the highest score, mostly due to the importance of this topic in the political agenda. It is a recent concern but legislation has been progressively adapted. A specific organisation is in charge of implementing laws on gender equality and objectives for the national plans on gender equality, and regional governments have copied this system by creating their own plans and specific organisations. The most important law (Law on Gender Equality) was adopted in March 2007 and acts as a new code for gender equality, which is treated as a transverse issue and concerns all national, regional and local public policies. Despite these advancements at a political level, inequality between men and women still remains, in socio-economic risk, in decision-making, representation and educational attainment, but the new Law on Gender Equality should improve this situation. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 2.7 Spanish women’s activity rate has increased by 26% over the last 10 years, but their unemployment, inactivity and part-time employment rates are still much higher than those of men. They get only 86.56% of male income. Work-life balance achievement is still difficult for women, who remain in charge of children and the home, in a society where gender roles are slowly changing. There are not sufficient social services available so that women can continue to work even after they start a family. However, the new Dependency Law (adopted in December 2006) recognises the universal right of people who cannot fend for themselves to be cared for by the state and for them to be guaranteed a series of benefits, which should help female carers in their insertion into the labour market. 26
  • 27. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 3.5 Spain has an increasing entrepreneurial culture, especially for women. The existing gender gap in self- employment is low in comparison with other EU countries: women carry out 39% of total entrepreneurial activity. Profiles of male and female entrepreneurs are similar, and women’s entrepreneurial motivation is changing from necessity to opportunity motivation. Self-employment of women is quite accepted in society, although male entrepreneurs are more present in the media. Female business success is still affected by female choices and characteristics: service sector and retail trade offer fewer entrance barriers, more competition and low profit margins, they are more affected by risk-avoidance and less well integrated in professional networks. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 2.9 Self-employment promotion activities, especially those targeting women entrepreneurs, multiplied during recent years but there is no real consideration of men-specific and women-specific necessities in the design of BDS programmes: activities to help women entrepreneurs are specific because they are aimed at a female group, more than because of their women-focused content. The necessity of introducing gender mainstreaming in statistics and research is scarcely mentioned in strategic planning documents, and data on entrepreneurship is limited in Spain. Therefore, the influence of gender research results to improve policy and practice of the support structure for entrepreneurship scores medium. Access to finance SCORE: 2.1 The low score for Spain in this dimension does not mean that gender equality is not improving. As a matter of fact, microlenders are reaching women at a very high rate: in 2004, the female / male client ratio was 58%, which is much higher than the EU countries average. Many programmes focusing on women entrepreneurs and other gender-sensitive programmes from generalist lenders exist nationwide. The reason why the overall score is so low is because of insufficient data on gender equality in access to finance. Gender mainstreaming is not taken into account in the existing studies on financial resources and external finance used by male and female entrepreneurs. Recommendations Government /Policy makers - Three new laws (on Gender Equality, Dependency and Self-Employment) give a positive first political step for gender equality in entrepreneurship, and the real challenge in the future will be the application and execution of these measures, in order to achieve any significant change. - There is a need to promote a change in values, to improve entrepreneurship education. Practitioners - Information about entrepreneurship at job centres should be improved, by a closer collaboration between these centres and BDS practitioners. Finance and Funding Providers - Start-up finance is still missing in Spain and should become a priority. Access to bank loans and public schemes should be improved, with easier conditions and requirements. Venture capital is still missing. Income support to promote movement from unemployment to self-employment should become available for inactive people. - The microcredit ratio per inhabitant could be improved, and microfinance providers should promote transparency in their statistics. Researchers: - The absence of statistics on gender equality, in society and in entrepreneurship, has limited the provision of information in the present study, so that researchers should follow the new equality law and adapt their methodology in order to provide more information on gender equality. 27
  • 28. United Kingdom General national context High Ranks for entrepreneurship United Kingdom The UK generally scores at or 5 above average for each of the 4 Gender equality in 3 Gender equality in six dimensions, although it is access to finance 2 society notable that this is more often 1 because it is outperforming in 0 general entrepreneurial condi- Gender equality in tions such as attitude and Gender equality in support structures for business regulation, rather than entrepreneurship labour market inclusion for gender equality. Gender equality in entrepreneurship National Scorecard Results for UK with high ranks General National Context for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.4 The general context for entrepreneurship in the UK is relatively benign. This is a result of several factors: light administrative burdens on entrepreneurs, particularly for start-up businesses, hiring and firing of workers and businesses facing bankruptcy; a comparatively strong culture of risk taking across the population; and, a heavy policy emphasis on entrepreneurship (although efforts are somewhat disjointed). One area of concern is the level of entrepreneurship education, which, despite substantial recent funding, is only compulsory for 14-16 year olds. There is, however, a considerable effort to develop best practice in the field. This contrasts with the situation in Scotland, where entrepreneurship education is compulsory up to 16. Welfare Bridges for people to move from unemployment to self-employment are provided nationwide, alongside a variety of training and support measures, but they suffer from being part of the active unemployment programme, the New Deal, and are thus limited to those who are eligible for this. Income support for test trading could be extended to include all those who are economically inactive. Gender Equality in Society SCORE: 3.8 The UK scores highly on gender equality in society, however a heavy policy focus is undermined by a lack of quantified goals and a focus on economic inequality, to the exclusion of others areas. There are a number of initiatives and commissions responsible for equality, such as the women and work commission, the National Strategic Framework Women's Enterprise and it's follow on, the Women's Enterprise Task Force. Comparatively, women are only slightly more likely to live in poverty than men, thanks to significant tax & welfare reforms under New Labour. While these initiatives are positive, the UK continues to score poorly on international gender indexes by organisations such as the UN, and experts feel that the impact of policy measures on local service delivery are patchy at best. Gender Equality in Labour Market Inclusion and Welfare Bridges to Self-Employment SCORE: 2.9 Gender equality in the labour market and routes out of unemployment into self-employment are mixed. On the one hand, there are grounds for major concern over the persistently large gender pay gap, the continuing under-representation of women in senior public life and private companies, and, to a lesser extent, the impacts of continuing gender imbalances in the Welfare system. Women are also more likely to work part-time, and the impact of admittedly major reforms to the childcare system are yet to be fully realised. On the other hand, women are almost as likely to be economically active as men, even if many work part-time. There has also been recognition of the ways in which welfare systems have disadvantaged women in the past, and reforms and programmes to rectify this are beginning to feed through on a wider and wider scale. Despite this, female take up rates of welfare remain low, especially unemployment benefits. This may be a result of the lack of non-active benefits available. Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment SCORE: 2.9 The UK performs very poorly in terms of gender equality in entrepreneurship and self-employment, but perhaps as a result of high female employment levels, the very low proportion of women compelled into entrepreneurship improves the overall score. Female self-employment rates are far lower than men's, and below the EU average. There are also far less women starting up businesses, and, perhaps therefore unsurprisingly, women's businesses ownership levels are far lower than men's. Eurostat data also shows that the businesses run by women tend to be smaller in terms of turnover 28
  • 29. and employee numbers. The only positive notes are: that women are actually less likely than men to be forced into entrepreneurship out of necessity; and, that recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data suggests women in the UK are one of the few groups across the developed world, of either gender, who have not witnessed a decline in Total Entrepreneurial Activity rates. Gender Equality in Support Structures for Entrepreneurship SCORE: 3.0 Support structures for entrepreneurship are weak in meeting and addressing the female specific needs of women, however, research into the issues affecting female entrepreneurs has largely reached a consensus, and privately led networking has exploded in recent years. Most positively, this networking amongst female entrepreneurs has exploded in recent years, and there have been a number of good public sector initiatives to capitalise on this privately led development. For example, the initiative to recruit 1,000 female entrepreneurs as mentors, something that numerous studies have shown is crucial to overcoming often low levels of confidence amongst women looking to, or starting up a business. WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) is a prime example of a networking and support initiative to address issues that were previously off the public sector radar. Unfortunately, promotional campaigns to address these issues, such as lack of confidence, have not been matched by effective policy measures and / or re-design of businesses support services to meet these needs. While organisations such as Prowess, who are charged with engendering businesses support services, are effective, many of the organisations they work with are small and under resourced. The wholesale re- organisation and simplification of mainstream public support structures has prevented any serious advance in engendering of services. Issues uncovered by the research have been realised, but their impact at a local level has been hampered by these changes and the lack of resources available to support the work of organisations such as Prowess. Gender Equality in Access to Finance SCORE: 3.5 The UK scores fairly highly for gender equality in access to finance, however the available data suggests that female access to microcredit is low, and there is still a significant gender gap in overall start-up resources. Because of the more fractured nature of the UK microcredit sector (a similar model to the US), provision tends to be patchy, and localised, but there are far more individual schemes than many other countries. As a result, the sector often struggles to prove its effectiveness, because of a lack of resources and central co-ordination, and requires policy and financial support for the foreseeable future. Many of the organisations and their clients we spoke to could see a huge need for their services, but in common with the broader group of bodies tackling financial exclusion, they struggle to prove their impact and efforts to address this are only in the very early stages. The conditions for small business lending in the UK are world leading, and the available evidence suggests that there isn't a huge difference between men and women in accessing bank loans. The real issue is the amount of overall financial resources used when starting a business, with women far more likely to capitalise their businesses at a lower level, a factor commonly associated with lower survival rates. Issues such as confidence and attitudes to risk may affect this, but given women are more likely to be paid less prior to start up, work-part time or be economically inactive, this may well be a field to which gender-specific microcredit can make a real difference in the UK. Recommendations The recommendations given here are focused on actions that can be taken relative to the entrepreneurship agenda, rather than recommendations for gender equality in work & life. - The female specific microcredit sector is small in the UK and needs expansion. The broader CDFI sector is struggling at the moment, with clear recommendations from experts in the field, such as the New Economics Foundation, that not only should policy and financial support be maintained by government if the sector is to survive, but that a decision must be made about its future development. Evidence from the European Microfinance Network shows that female microcredit access rates are low in the UK; however interviews with practitioners show that women are systematically failed by more mainstream providers. - Engendering of mainstream businesses support services should be encouraged, particularly through organisations such as Prowess (see above). - Support should be given for female finance providers to network at a national level, perhaps through Prowess, because efforts appear fragmented and regionally based. - Central government should ensure that the Women's Enterprise Taskforce receives as much support as possible to achieve its mission. - Research should be carried out, perhaps by the CDFA, to delineate detailed differences in access to CDFI finance/services by women, particularly with a view to take up of loans and provision of female friendly measures. This should take account of the pressures facing CDFIs at the current time, and burdens that any recommendation for future action might create. 29
  • 30. For more information on the project, please visit regularly updated webpages here: www.european-microfinance.org and browse “Programmes” // “Gender Equality” or go directly to: http://www.european-microfinance.org/gender_equality_en.php European Microfinance Network (EMN) 4 Boulevard Poissonnière 75009 Paris - FRANCE Tel: +33 (0)1 56 03 59 68 Fax: +33 (0)1 56 03 59 77 Web : www.european-microfinance.org Email : emn@european-microfinance.org 30