An EBRD-funded study on promoting women’s entrepreneurship in North Macedonia, ‘Roadmap for a gender-responsive investment climate’, was launched today in Skopje.
The launch event was opened by North Macedonian Economy Minister Kreshnik Bektesi. Participants included the EBRD, the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia, policy makers, business representatives and civil society.
Developed by Marja Listesca under the Women’s Business (WiB) Program in the Western Balkans, the roadmap will inform policy makers and other stakeholders on how to boost women’s entrepreneurship. In particular, we recommend:
Mainstreaming gender in investment policy – Investment policies need to include gender objectives and criteria and direct support for sectors in which women-led and women-owned businesses operate.
Development of support services for companies owned and managed by women – This includes start-up services such as incubators and accelerators that integrate a gender perspective into business operations or provide specific services to women-led and women-owned businesses.
Improve access to finance and markets for women-led and women-owned businesses – This includes digitization, subsidies, subsidies, gender taxation, including gender criteria in lending schemes, and access to women-led or women-owned businesses in the country’s new Guarantee Fund to support financing for SMEs. May include measures such as opening. Large Enterprises (SMEs) and Traders.
Aneta Krstevska, chief economist at the National Bank of North Macedonia, said: “The new roadmap is designed by the National Bank and other financial regulators during the preparation of the first National Strategy for Financial Education and Inclusion 2021-2025. It’s in addition to the work we’ve done before,” he said. She uncovered gender-related and other gaps in financial education and inclusion and identified action points. North Macedonia is working with partners to improve opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship. “
These comments were echoed by Andy Aranitasi, EBRD Director for North Macedonia. “The roadmap shows how the EBRD’s approach to policy dialogue is geared towards improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the women business community. We will seek to close the financial gender gap by supporting gender-disaggregated data collection, analysis and awareness-raising, and building capacity to break down gender stereotypes in lending.”
The Roadmap notes that despite the country’s well-developed policy and legal framework, women remain a low proportion of business leaders in North Macedonia, with only one-third of business owners in the country. are doing. Women-led firms are also consistently smaller and underrepresented among sectors with high growth potential, and are part of the small and microenterprise segment, which accounts for only a fraction of certain economic activities such as trade and services. They are often trapped.
Supporting women in business
EBRD has a long history of helping women access entrepreneurial opportunities. Most notably through her Women in Business (WiB) program. The program is active in 24 economies and has so far provided €900 million in loans and business advice to over 100,000 women-led SMEs and 58 partner financial institutions.
Since launching the WiB program in the Western Balkans in 2014, the first program in the region, the EBRD has provided over €60 million to partner financial institutions for on-lending to women-led SMEs. . This, combined with a wide range of advice, training, mentoring and networking activities provided by EBRD, has helped over 7,500 women entrepreneurs develop and grow their businesses. So far, 12 banks and financial institutions in the Western Balkans have joined the program.
In North Macedonia, the WiB program is available through NLB Banka and Ohridska Banka. Advisory services under this program are supported by donations from Sweden and Luxembourg.