How EU supports women in business: overview of opportunities

Starting a new business is always not easy, especially if you have to take care of your home, of your children and parents, if you get support from no-one and you often have no idea where to start. There are many international programs helping women launch a business, receive education or protect their economic rights. But it often becomes difficult to find the right information. That’s why analysts from EU Neighbors East gathered all EU projects in Ukraine which can help women succeed in their own business endeavor.

  • Where to receive knowledge and advice

“The European Union actively helps new companies develop, especially if they are owned by women and are located in regions. One does not necessarily have to live in Kyiv and have higher education or a running business to receive support from the EU. You can receive not only practical knowledge and advice but also money to launch an own business,” experts emphasize and cite several examples.

Thus, a network of 15 Centers for Information Support to Businesses was established in all regions of Ukraine as part of EU4Business initiative. These centers offer free consultations, trainings and workshops. For example, the Center for Female Entrepreneurship was opened in Kharkiv. There, women can attend trainings, receive recommendations how to start or develop an own business or became a member of the female entrepreneurship network. The centers provide service to all women, regardless of whether you are establishing a new company or want to expand an existing business.

UNDP also provides recommendations regarding organization of a business in eastern regions of Ukraine under the project “EU’s Support of the East of Ukraine”. This project provides business development services and offers skill improvement courses. The program Mayors for Economic Growth”, working together with local authorities, helps develop regional economies and create new jobs. In Ukraine, dozens of local administrations participate in this program, and six of them have already launched pilot projects.

“The infrastructure supporting local companies and private entrepreneurs will be created in Slavutych and Hlyboka community. The purpose of projects in Baranivka and Dolyna is to help in development of agricultural enterprises. In Severynivka and Nove Misto communities, special attention is devoted to development of tourism,” the experts said.

And EU4Youth initiative is implementing four projects at once: “Development of education, employment and participation of the Ukrainian youth in the areas affected by conflicts”, “From employment to stability”, “School garden for agricultural entrepreneurship”, and “Better skills for the better future”. These projects organize courses and on-the-job trainings for entrepreneurs under 35 years of age. IDPs, women and residents of poor regions are provided grants to start an own business.

  • How to find funding without having own funds and required experience

That very EU4Youth initiative offers 150 grants to young people from among internally displaced persons to establish agricultural startups. Funding can also be received from the project called “From employment to stability”. For the youngest (aged between 14 and 21 years) entrepreneurs, UPSHIFT program offers various courses and up to 60,000 hryvnias for implementation of social projects in various regions of Ukraine.

For residents of eastern regions of Ukraine, UNDP provides grants with the European Union’s support for up to 10 thousand dollars for small business initiatives.

Besides grants, the EU provides funding to programs helping small companies receive financing. For example, Women in Business provides funds to launch or develop a business. The program’s local partner, Bank Lviv, offers low-interest terms to female entrepreneurs for new business ideas or to expand an existing company. EU4Business provides loans via local banks – from micro-financing to large investment loans.

  • Where to receive assistance for development of an existing business

“If you already have a business and want to expand it, you can receive financing and training via EU4Business programs. They provide support to development of the private sector across Ukraine,” specialists recommend.

Women in Business program not only provides loans. It also organizes trainings and offers free consulting services to companies managed by women. And DCTA Initiative East specializes in micro-financing, offering loans for up to 25 thousand euros. European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE) also issues loans (with the average loan amount of 51 thousand euros) to companies with the number of personnel less than 50.

The Entrepreneurship Development Fund offers loans to small enterprises at the lowest interest rates. Ukrainian entrepreneurs also have access to the EU’s COSME program providing grants for development of small companies. In addition, there is Erasmus program for young entrepreneurs, which gives the chance to start a company and learn from the experience of entrepreneurs in the EU.

  • Where to learn something new

The EU allocates substantial funds for professional education and training. For example, they recently launched a program supporting professional education and training, EU4Skills: Better Skills for a Modern Ukraine, which supports reform at the national level. One can also receive direct support by participating in individual programs from EU4Youth. They are aimed to improve professional skills of young people under 35 years of age. The EU also offers opportunities from Erasmus+ programs for the youth, if you are receiving higher education.

By Ksenia Kapustynska

Source: Segodnya