For over a century, March 8th has been seen as a day that holds special meaning for women. On International Women’s Day, we asked ourselves a question: how can we empower girls and women, entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs to be?
This brings us back to one of the workshops that took place during SME Assembly 2021 that was built around this topic and brought to light a number of actions we all can take, no matter our role in the business community.
Here is a list of three simple actions that would help empowering girls and women in business:
I. Promote women entrepreneurs
The data from WEgate, the e-platform launched by the European Commission to support women entrepreneurs across Europe, shows that women need to see examples of other women entrepreneurs, they need to have business models and to find references in which they can recognize themselves, as Eva Merloni, Project Manager at WEgate, told us during the workshop.
II. Support girls and women to enhance their digital and entrepreneurial competences
This will boost their confidence to use those competencies in STEM areas by spotting opportunities, innovating and creating value for society. This will bring a positive impact on the economy by enabling the application of these transversal competences to societal challenges and different economic sectors.
III. Access to finance
Quoting Virginia Woolf who said that in order to become a writer a woman needs a room of her own and 500 pounds, Margherita Bacigalupo, Scientific Officer at Joint Research Centre (JRC) at European Commission’s Science Service, highlighted that women need access to finance and that economic independence is key in the evolution of women entrepreneurs.
This is just a small part of what was discussed during the workshop we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we invite you to watch the entire session below:
As 99,7% of the companies in Europe are SMEs, the EU has launched various instruments to help SMEs access finance, notably financial instruments (loans, guarantees and venture capital) and grants (collaborative actions and the SME instrument) in order to recover and build up the resilience after the Covid-19 crisis.
During the SME Assembly 2021, these instruments were largely discussed and a dedicated workshop took place focusing solely on this topic.
With the participation of Maarit Nyman (DG Grow Deputy Head of the SME Unit), Igor Kalinic (EISMEA) and Salvatore Amico Roxas (DG Grow Access to Finance Unit), the workshop looked at the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and opportunities for SMEs with a special focus on the Single Market Programme (SMP), The European Innovation Council and Invest EU Programme.
We invite you to watch the session and find out which instruments are most suitable for your enterprise.
Here is what we noted down during the workshop:
The Single Market Programme focuses on strengthening the governance of the internal market, supporting the competitiveness of industry and in particular of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), promoting human, animal and plant health and animal welfare and establishing the framework for financing European statistics. With €4.2 billion over the period of 2021-2027, out of which 1 billion is destined to SMEs, it provides an integrated package to support and strengthen the governance of the single market.
To be more specific, the SME pillar of the Single Market Programme will first ensure the continuity of the implementation of the most impactful actions of the COSME programme, in particular supporting a better access to markets, a more favourable business environment and promoting entrepreneurship. It aims to foster the competitiveness, capacity building and sustainability of enterprises, especially SMEs, including the tourism sector, highly affected by the pandemic.
On the other hand, the European Innovation Council (EIC), established under the EU Horizon Europe programme, has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early stage research, to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs.
Last, but not least, Invest EU Fund, part of Invest EU Programme, is a single fund bringing together the many different EU-level financial instrument and it aims, among other things, facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), small mid-cap companies. This includes capital support for SMEs that were negatively affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
For more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.
As you know, the 2022 edition that is entitled “Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition”, will take place from 08th to the 11th of February and aims to stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems on their green and digital transition, in support of strengthening the resilience of EU companies including SMEs.
This year’s edition will also hold discussions on how the young generation can shape the future of EU industry in line with the Commission proposal to make 2022 the European Year of Youth.
Kristina Dimova, who is 22 and an inspiring representative of her generation, is one of the speakers in the Plenary Session: Inspiring Dialogue with Young Europeans that will take place on 10 February starting 15:30.
Moderated by Olena Sullivan-Prykhodko, 2021 Junior Chamber International Vice President, Co-Founder and Director of Modelex Education Monaco and the British School of Monaco, the session gathers creative young business owners that will share their vision on the future of entrepreneurship.
“Change is inevitable. That’s why businesses must adapt or perish. The way they could adapt is by being as human as possible. The main thesis of my essay is that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company but in the context of management. However, humanity should be combined with key factors such as digital transformation, ecology, and economic growth.” This is what Kristina highlighted when talking about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, during SME Assembly 2021.
She also added that “Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs.”
With this in mind, we remind you that there it is still time to register and take part in the discussion on turning industrial challenges into opportunities for Europe.
Check out the full programme here and see what sessions are of interest to you!
Bulgarian Kristina Dimova won the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021 with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company, but in the context of management. We invite you discover what was the motivation behind Kristina’s participation in the Competition, but also what was her main takeaway from last year’s SME Assembly.
What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Ever since I started my higher education, I have been working and looking for ways to develop myself. From editorials, to academies, agencies – for the last four years I had the chance to see how the work process is constantly changing. Not only mine, but one of the biggest problems of other young proactive people I’ve been talking to, is the management system and the fact that, no matter how much it has changed regarding flexibility, home office, etc, it’s still strictly hierarchical and because of that it’s draining the creative force of youth and its talents. This is why, when I saw the theme of the SME Youth Essay Competition, I wanted to show that, no matter how genius and innovative a business idea can be, it is nothing without the people working for its happening.
Moreover, as I said in my gratitude speech, Sabine Kressens – 2020’s winner essay and how intriguing and complex her text was, inspired me even more to participate. I wanted to see if I can do what she did so gracefully – present such an innovative idea in a way everyone can understand it.
What was it like to be announced as a winner of the 2021 competition?
A moment of pure bliss. I have read the essays of the other finalists and until the announcement, I still was not quite sure if anyone will recognize my idea as a crucial one for the survival of the development of future SMEs’. This is mainly because management has always been looked over when people are talking about successful entrepreneurial projects. However, after my name was announced, I reassured myself that everyone who has voted for me has been feeling there is a crucial need for change in that field. Afterwards many representatives of various institutions and companies who were in the audience during the competition congratulated me on this thesis. The fact that they have appreciated the youth perspective is what truly made me happy and is the biggest success.
What did you think about the SME Assembly 2021?
In person contact is irreplaceable. Because of the fact that the SME Assembly 2021 gave me the chance to meet people not only through a zoom square, the feeling of excitement was with me throughout the whole event. I’m still talking not only to friends of mine, but to colleagues about how eye-opening and inspiring the Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture which Professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj held. Of course, all of the fantastic and bright people I have met at the SME Assembly 2021 are making my memories of it even more unforgettable.
What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2021?
Time is limited. Therefore, we must not only make the most of it, but make it worthy for us and the world we live in. Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs. In a world where people are more divided than ever on so many topics, we need to find the way to the right solutions for each of us. The SME Assembly 2021 showed me that with the right steps, the path towards re-establishing unity is possible to be walked.
What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?
Currently, I am writing my Bachelor’s thesis and, fingers crossed I will be graduating in 2022. Afterward, as they say, hopefully, the future will become clearer and even brighter. 🙂 Besides that, the business academy I am part of – 9Academy is currently running its 9th season. The 9 circles of business we are looking through in the educational process (which is very practical on its own) are making the academy a unique piece of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bulgaria. In addition, who knows, maybe one day in Europe as well?).
The other finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition were Victoria Krah, half Spanish, half German, and Rui Teixeira from Portugal.
Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!