Finance and advice for women in business

We know that women entrepreneurship plays a key role in creating jobs and driving economic growth. We firmly believe that creating equal opportunities for women in business is not only a question of gender equality, but also an economic priority. That’s why in the countries where we work, we go out of our way to help women entrepreneurs succeed and be more engaged in business.

We work hard to help women unlock their potential, strengthen their skills and encourage their participation in business. We provide access to finance through credit lines to local banks dedicated to women-led small and medium-size businesses, and business advice, training and support for women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses. We also work closely with our partner banks to help them offer financial products that better meet the needs of women-led businesses, changing the way they work.

We have worked with thousands of successful women in business across 26 countries. So we know that with the right support, women-led businesses can not only grow, but excel.

Within a year of working with us:

  • 83 per cent of women-led businesses increase turnover by an average of 28 per cent
  • 57 per cent increase their number of employees,  contributing to job creation
  • 73 per cent improve the productivity of their enterprise
  • 14 per cent access external financing to grow their businesses.

We run these special programmes across many countries from the Western Balkans and Croatia to Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the Caucasus.

What we offer

We work with women-led small and medium-sized businesses from many different sectors. From accessing finance to business advice, we can help you gain the skills, knowledge and resources you need to take the next step.

Access to finance

Securing finance is one of the greatest challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses. Thanks to the contributions of our donors, we partner with local banks to offer dedicated financing to help women entrepreneurs access the finance they need to invest and grow.

Women in Business seminars

We regularly hold seminars that bring together women entrepreneurs to share the resources available to them. Through these seminars, you can meet with our team and representatives from our partner banks and learn about what we offer. Here, our consultants will also help you to identify the challenges that your business faces and where financing and advice can help.

It is also an opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs in your region, share ideas and experience and build up your professional network. You’ll meet with business professionals, and representatives from organisations supporting women entrepreneurs, including various business associations, Chambers of Commerce, women’s associations and more. For more information on when and where the next seminar will take place, contact one of our offices.

Business advice

We support a range of projects that help companies access know-how to transform their businesses. This covers a wide range of topics, from the technical knowledge to build a website, for example, or to introduce a quality management system that meets ISO standards, improve energy efficiency or improve Human Resources management. These usually involve working with qualified local consultants and we reimburse a portion of the net costs. You can see the range of advice we offer, and the proportion of costs we will reimburse, in this leaflet.  

And, if you obtain a loan from one of our partner banks within a year, we will reimburse an additional ten per cent of the costs of your advisory project.

Business coaching

Having a business plan is a great start, but often it is not enough. When we believe in your business’ potential, we provide you with a specially trained local business coach. You’ll meet with your coach face-to-face on a monthly basis over the course of at least a year as they help you implement and follow through on your business plan. We share the costs of this support with you.  

Industry expertise

For those companies looking to compete internationally or attract investment, we also have opportunities to work with an international adviser who brings more than 15 years of senior management experience in the same industry as your business.  These projects usually involve a strategic review of every aspect of your enterprise, from sales and marketing to exports, investment, and financial and strategic planning and we cover a portion of the costs. Whether it is specialised knowledge of the right humidity levels for wool spinning, laboratory standards for producing pharmaceuticals or selecting the most effective equipment to improve manufacturing, our international industry advisers understand how these issues relate to your business and your needs.

Entrepreneurial skills courses

There’s more to creating a successful business than having a good idea or a great talent. We offer practical business training for women to develop essential entrepreneurial skills like financial literacy, marketing techniques and e-commerce. From developing your leadership abilities to deepening your business acumen, we can teach you the skills you need to succeed.

Mentoring

Using our partnerships with international mentoring initiatives, we can connect you with an experienced entrepreneur from our global network. Having the knowledge and experience of a mentor to draw on will help you to improve your personal impact and overcome challenges. Our mentoring programmes also develop the management and leadership qualities that are vital for success in business.

Eligibility

For your business to qualify for this programme, overall operational management responsibility for the company should be held by a woman, who may also partially or wholly own the business.

Our Women in Business Programmes are specifically focused on small and medium-sized businesses, meaning businesses with less than €50 million in annual turnover or with a balance sheet total of less than €43 million.

What’s more, we work with women-led businesses in almost every sector and industry. However, we cannot work with businesses in banking or financial services, military products or services, gambling or tobacco. To apply for an advisory project for your business, contact our offices and complete our application form.  We’ll let you know when we have a training course coming up, or an event or networking opportunity.  And if you have any questions, get in touch with our offices, or by phone or email.