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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 17 October 2012

SME WEEK: EU needs more women entrepreneurs to create growth and jobs

Women's entrepreneurial potential is underexploited and the EU needs more women entrepreneurs to create growth and new jobs. This was the main message of today's European SME Week Summit in Brussels which focuses on encouraging women to consider setting up and running their own business, usually a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). With Europe moving further towards having national economies based on adding value through services, the need for more and better qualified human capital will only grow. This is where women can play a key role. The fact that women only account for 34.4% of the self-employed in Europe suggests that they need more encouragement to become entrepreneurs. This leaves considerable untapped human potential that is sorely needed to boost economic growth and create the new jobs required in today’s difficult economic climate. If more women can be motivated to start up and lead companies, this could generate growth and jobs across the EU.

The European Commission is actively promoting women entrepreneurship with:

  • the European Ambassadors’ Network providing inspirational role models to encourage women to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option and

  • a European Mentors’ Network who give practical advice to women who have recently launched their own businesses.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "It is clear that female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are one of 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."

For more information about the SME Week

For more information about Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors

For more information about Networks for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs take more calculated risks

While European women are at least as well educated as men, only a few decide to set up a company in the fifteen years following their graduation. Lack of take-up can partly be explained by difficulties they encounter in reconciling private and professional activities. In addition, existing business set-up support systems are not always tailored to women’s specific needs. Concerns faced by potential women entrepreneurs include greater difficulty accessing financing, professional networks and training and a possible lack of confidence due to the absence of appropriate role models.

Women also tend to be cautious and take more calculated risks, and to focus on creating companies in familiar areas and for which they can benefit from family support. They can fail to take full advantage of networking opportunities and often grow their businesses slowly and only if their family situation allows them to work long hours with a good probability of success. Women therefore require tailor-made support measures when setting up their businesses.

More information: EU study on promotion of female entrepreneurship

For more information and case studies on female entrepreneurship:

European SME Week 2012

The European SME Week 2012 will include activities in 37 countries, to ensure events are easily accessible to existing and potential entrepreneurs. The events, arranged by business organisations, business support providers and national, regional and local authorities, will also enable existing companies to share their experiences and further develop themselves. Last year, close to 1,500 events were held across Europe.

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52)

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

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