EBRD promotes women’s entrepreneurship in Croatia

By Axel  Reiserer

Supporting woman in business is a key part of the EBRD’s mission and over the years the Bank has developed concrete programmes to facilitate the business initiatives of women entrepreneurs. One example is the Women in Business programme in Croatia, which today in Zagreb takes stock of its achievements in the country.

Women’s entrepreneurship can be a major catalyst for economic development, but in the Western Balkans and Croatia the participation rate of women in business remains behind the European average. The EBRD’s first dedicated Women in Business programme has supported 49 women entrepreneurs in Croatia with advice and training to grow their businesses.

Funded by Luxembourg, the Taiwan-EBRD Cooperation Fund and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, the Women in Business programme provides a comprehensive toolkit of support. Training courses in entrepreneurial skills – such as starting your own business and online marketing – are complemented by advisory projects that connect businesses with local management consultants. The programme also includes mentoring, through which women entrepreneurs from Croatia share their experiences and challenges with women around the world, either as mentee or mentor.

“This programme has been a real success,” said Charlotte Ruhe, Director of the EBRD’s Small Business Support team. “For example, one of our participants started with nothing more than a business idea, which, thanks to training and other support was eventually transformed into a business. This shows that, given the right tools, women are fully capable of succeeding as entrepreneurs.”

“The EBRD recognises that gender equality is an important part of the transition process,” added Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, EBRD Director for Croatia. “Promoting women’s entrepreneurship is a vital part of our efforts to advance transition. The complementarity of skills has become very important, particularly in times of economic crisis.”

The EBRD supports small and medium-sized businesses with finance and know-how. Since the beginning of its operations in Croatia in 1999 the Small Business Support team has provided advice to over 545 businesses, helping them grow and become catalysts for the development of their local and regional economies.