Practical advice and support for Europe’s female entrepreneurs was on the agenda in Brussels at a lively policy briefing organised by smallbusinesseurope, in the run up to European SME Week 2010 and the launch of the Small Business Act review.
Joanna Drake - European Commission
Keynote speaker Joanna Drake, the European Commission’s Deputy Special Envoy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), underlined the necessary steps for the EU to support and provide practical help to female entrepreneurs. “More needs to be done to help “unlock” the entrepreneurial skills of women. I am calling for specific action to provide “mentoring” skills and “support systems” in addition to existing support networks that are already in place such as the Women’s Ambassadors Entrepreneurship Network.
Drake, speaking at the smallbusinesseurope event, also voiced concern at “stagnation” in the number of entrepreneurs in Europe, both men and women. “Latest polls suggest this figure remains pretty stagnant at about 45 per cent,” she said.
The event, “Female entrepreneurs: taking business to the next level,” was organised ahead of the commission’s review of the Small Business Act, expected begin shortly. The role of women entrepreneurs will, said, Drake, form part of the review which is expected to lead to a new commission initiative in the autumn.
The smallbusinesseurope briefing, attended by an appreciative audience of entrepreneurs, European businesses, trade associations and regions, began the countdown to European SME Week 2010 in Brussels, addressing the “Female Entrepreneurs – taking business to the next level!”
Sally Arkley, Director of the Women’s Business Development Agency based in the West Midlands commented “I would strongly urge the Commission to prioritise measures to transform the landscape for women’s enterprise as a matter of economic urgency. We need to apply the gender lens to every initiative, proposals, piece of legislation undertaken throughout the Union. ”
Addressing the same event, Sophie Howe, who heads up a UK-based company
Sophie Howe - Comtec
Comtec Translations, spoke of what it takes to become an entrepreneur. She said, “The key point about running your own business is about having the hunger and determination to pull through, to keep going. But it is not always easy to keep that momentum up. And that is where external support comes in.”
Mandip Taunque, European Business Policy Manager of smallbusinesseurope announced that smallbusinesseurope will be steering a campaign to address enterprise barriers for women.
Mandip Taunque - smallbusinesseurope
“We have launched an online campaign to develop a ‘shopping list’ for new products and services that women entrepreneurs need to successfully develop their potential. This shopping list will form the basis of our response to the forthcoming Small Business Act review. We welcome your ‘shopping list’ ideas on our blog.”