European Commission - Press release
Female mentors to help woman entrepreneurs to get started
Brussels, 15 November 2011. A new European network of mentors to promote female entrepreneurship through the sharing of know-how and experience has been launched today by the European Commission. Women only account for 34.4% of the self-employed in Europe. To raise this share, successful businesswomen will assist women entrepreneurs who established a new enterprise two to four years ago. The mentors will give these new entrepreneurs concrete advice on how to run and grow their enterprises in this early, critical phase of the businesses as well as help them to develop the necessary soft skills and coach them. The network will cover 17 European countries; 170 mentors will participate in it.
Entrepreneurship fits well with women's life choices in particular giving them flexibility regarding the reconciliation of private and professional life, specifically concerning the time and place of work. Further, due to the economic crisis, many women that became unemployed could use their skills and knowledge, start-up their own company and create their own job.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Enterprises, said: “It is clear that female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are the most underexploited source of economic growth and new jobs that should be further developed in Europe. In a time of crisis we cannot afford to forgo this potential. Having more women entrepreneurs will economically empower women and contribute to growth.”
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Selection of mentors
Mentors will be selected among businesswomen (or businessmen) who have personal experience of owning and managing a SME successfully for at least five years and are aware of specific challenges that women entrepreneurs face and are ready and willing to share their knowledge and know-how with their mentorees on a volunteering basis (i.e., without remuneration), are available to meet them regularly for a minimum of one year and are willing to engage with at least two mentorees.
The mentors shall meet with their mentorees regularly and discuss with them current as well as strategic issues of the management of the mentorees' companies, helping them to build / acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence/mindset. To avoid conflicts of interest, mentors are not allowed to take any economic interest in their mentorees' companies.
The potential of women entrepreneurs in creating economic growth and new jobs:
Women enterprise differently than men, therefore women-specific support measures are needed:
The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs is one of the actions proposed in the 2011 Review of the Small Business Act for Europe. It will cover 17 countries (Albania, Belgium, Cyprus, FYROM, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).