Business Is For Women, Too!

BY: Ajka Rovčanin, M.Sc, Institute for Youth Development KULT

Finally! The government will provide systematic support to women entrepreneurs in BiH!

A few days ago, the government of FBiH adopted the first Action plan for developing women’s entrepreneurship in FBiH 2018-2020, created by the Federal Ministry of Development, Entrepreneurship and Crafts. In mid-2018, Republika Srpska adopted the Strategy for developing women’s entrepreneurship 2018-2020, created by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining. The development of both of these documents was supported by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Thus far, women’s entrepreneurship has not been appropriately supported with strategies. Support took the form of sporadic initiatives and activities of the NGO sectors, and, even less frequently, of the government. This made it hard for women, and youth, to enter the world of entrepreneurship. The marginalization of women is obvious when we look at the unemployment rate – 20.3%, compared to the 17.2% for men. Employment rate is higher for men (44.1%) and the employment rate for women, according to the latest Labour Force Survey 2018, is 25%.

Women not participating equally in entrepreneurial activities means that the society is losing the value women are capable of producing. This is increasingly recognized as a problem in BiH, and discussions on women’s entrepreneurship moved from the province of gender equality into the wider context of the country’s economic development.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2012 report on women’s entrepreneurship shows that women in BiH recognise good business opportunities and think they are capable of running a business, but fear of failing prevents them from trying. The main challenge faced by women in BiH is keeping the business afloat in the initial stages after founding. Networks of women entrepreneurs are not as comprehensive as those of male entrepreneurs, and women rely more on personal connections and their families than on external sources of support. They are twice as likely as men to close a business.

Therefore, these documents are a much needed prerequisite for developing systemic support for women launching, running and developing their businesses, self-employment and generating jobs for others. They defined the goals, measures, deadlines and concrete activities that the competent institutions will be implementing.

The FBIH Action plan provides for the following: the preparation and analysis of data about the current state in women’s entrepreneurship and the existing programs and incentives, awarding funds for launching a business, education support and mentorship, developing an interactive e-platform for communication among entrepreneurs, organising meetings of women entrepreneurs from BiH and the Western Balkans.

The Strategy in RS provides for financial and professional support programs for entrepreneurs, support to networking and alliances, women’s entrepreneurship, rural and craft-based businesses, etc.

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