Equality Means Successful Business!

Equality Means Successful Business!

Belgrade and five other cities in Serbia have seen un implementation of UN-supported project aimed at empowering women emnployed in small and medium-sized enterprises

The aim of this activity is to introduce managers, especially owners of SMBe, with the “Seven Women’s Empowerment Principles” and assist inn their implementation, begins Olivera Popović, Vice-President of the Association of Business Women, speaking to Kurir Go International. She is the main coordinator of the project ”Improving the Capacity of SMBe in the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles”, which was recently launched in Belgrade and five other cities in Serbia – Valjevo, Čačak, Kragujevac, Niš and Bački Petrovac.

Raising awareness

The project, which is actually a UN initiative supported by UN Women in Serbia and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, will run for 10 month, and has been recognised as one of the key factors in improving the status of women in Serbia through the provision of information on the principles of empowerment and their application in enterprises. The aim of the project is to raise public awareness of the needs and strengths of women’s entrepreneurship.

Over 500 large multinational companies worldwide have signed a joint statement on the application of these principles and applied them, while here only 52 have done so, explains Popović. The motto of the campaign itself, “Equality Means Successful Business”, illustrates what can be achieved by introducing these principles. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and at all levels of economic activity is necessary in order to build a Strong economy and establish more stable and just societies.

Essence of the project

– These are also the internationally agreed development goals of sustainability human rights, improving quality of life for women, men, families and communities. The women’s empowerment principles created through a process of international agreements provide a “gender perspective” from which the business world can be viewed and analysed in terms of current operating procedure, criteria and reporting practices on this subject, says the project’s coordinator.

The essence of the project is reflected in the informing and educating of responsible staff members of companies regarding the meaning of those principles, how they are introduced and how they impact on the development and sustainability of enterprises. Our experience is that members of the Association of Business Women of Serbia already apply these principles, but through this project we are also educating and mentoring them on how to better apply them and to do so in more segments of business.

– For example, one of the principles encourages companies to look beyond their traditional suppliers and form new business partnerships with businesses owned by women, including small businesses and female entrepreneurs, and to collaborate with female business partners, female suppliers and women leaders in the community in an effort to promote practices that empower women, eliminate discrimination and create opportunities for the advancement of women and girls, explains Popović.

EU support

The Association of Business Women of Serbia is the largest national organization of female entrepreneurs and has played a leading role in organizing business women and providing top support, as well as promoting Serbia’s female entrepreneurs. One of the main objectives is increasing the number of women who launch their own businesses, as well as increasing the visibility of women who own businesses Among the association’s donors are the European Union and the Delegation of the European Commission to Serbia.

Expected project results

  • Promotion of trie Women’s Empowerment principles (WEP) in 100 companies in Serbia
  • Implementation of WEP in 30 companies in Serbia
  • Improving the capacity of local associations of business women through the implementation of WEP with the aim or attracting new members and provide adequate services to the membership
  • Raising public awareness of the strengths ol female entrepreneurship through the implementation of WEP

Together for women to get credit

A survey of 1000 enterprises, conducted by USAID’s Business Enabling Project, shows that only 8.5% of companies owned by women take out loans in excess of €50,000, while that figure is 27.4% for companies owned by men. A worying fact is that 58.3% of women take out loans of only up to €10,000. Dragan Marjanović, Director of the Employers Union of Serbia, says that every other woman  establishing entrepreneurial activities or a small business in Serbia is doing so because she is a struggling single mother or her husband has lost his job. When they attempt to launch  or expand their business, women find it harder to meet the demands of creditors and very rarely use advanced banking products, concluded experts of USAID’s Business Enabling Project and the Employers  Union of Serbia. “It is necessary for the Serbian government, local government and other key stakeholders able to influence the development of economic policy, to pay more attention in the future fo the development of women’s business, encouraging and assisting women in settling up their own companies and enabling them to more easily raise funds for the expansion of their business” – concludes Marjanović

By: Katarina Matrić

Source: Kurir Go International