EBRD supports drive to combat gender inequality in Croatia

By Victoria Zinchuk

EBRD and Raiffeisen team up to support Women in Business in Croatia

Empowerment programme – DARING – rewards socially responsible women-led business projects

The EBRD has stepped up its efforts to combat gender inequality in Croatia with its support for a programme that rewards socially responsible companies breaking down barriers to female entrepreneurship.

Up to five Croatian ventures stand to receive financial support and access to expertise and networking opportunities under the “Programme for the Economic Empowerment of Women”, known as DARING.

DARING was set up by the SOLIDARNA Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity together with IKEA and Mastercard and the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development to help women entrepreneurs with start-up ventures to successfully grow their businesses.

The EBRD, which promotes gender equality throughout its regions, including via its successful Women in Business programmes, joined an event organised by SOLIDARNA today to pick the first participants in the programme. The winners can receive up to HRK 75,000 each in financing as well as practical support. The initial programme is worth a total of HRK 250,000 (€33,000)

The programme seeks especially to reward projects that contribute to economic empowerment in underdeveloped environments and women in marginalised groups. The EBRD was invited to join in recognition of the Bank’s support for gender equality and women empowerment and will offer advisory services.

The five candidates who reached the shortlist for the programme were:

  • Aurora Colapis – several women in the rural area of Karlovac joined forces to build a traditional boat which was used to transport cereals in the past and now they offer tourist tours. Karlovac in central Croatia is located on four rivers and in recent years has attracted a growing number of visitors.
  • K-Zona developed and produced the card-game “Fierce Women” and the initial successful placement on the market showed there is potential for further market development and increase of sales.
  • Silvan Cosmetics produces natural, handcrafted soaps in special packaging inspired by the Croatian tradition, with seeds of wild flowers in it. The inspiration came from local tradition and natural resources.
  • Zagrebacki plesni ansambl (Zagreb Dance Ensemble) has a theatre facility in the Istrian village of Svetivincenat that hosts a dance and non-verbal theatre festival in the summer. The ensemble plans to upgrade its facility for commercial activities and further develop the festival programme, strengthening its international character.
  • Dandy is a social initiative born in Otočac in the Lika region, a rural and underdeveloped area with the smallest population and a largely untouched natural environment. The project is assembling the local population around a book club that invites interesting guests and motivate people to join forces to support and promote local tradition and products.

Croatian women represent nearly half the country’s workforce, but only just over a fifth of companies are owned by women. The EBRD has responded to this challenge with its Women in Business programme in Croatia. Backed by the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund, the Croatian initiative has provided 136 women-led companies with advisory services, facilitates participation of 270 female entrepreneurs in training programmes. It works with two partner banks who provide dedicated credit lines to women-led businesses.

Outside Croatia, the EBRD’s overall Women in Business programme has provided close to €500 million in credit lines to more than 30 banks in 18 countries reaching over 35,000 women.

*Victoria Zinchuk is EBRD Director for Croatia