International Conference „Women Entrepreneurs of New Age: New Opportunities for Regional Economic Revival“

International Conference „Women Entrepreneurs of New Age: New Opportunities for Regional Economic Revival“

The second International conference „Women Entrepreneurs of New Age: New Opportunities for Regional Economic Revival“ was held September 25 to 26 in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia. Organizer of the conference was the Association of Business Women in Serbia.
The realization of the conference was supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). One of the supporters of the event was also Societe Generale bank in Serbia.

The main goals of the conference were establishing new business contacts with women entrepreneurs from the region, strengthening the influence of women on the changes in business environment, being a part of larger regional initiatives for promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, and, probably the most important, networking in order to achieve joint performance.

During the first day of the conference B2B brokerage meetings organized by the Enterprise Europe Network Serbia – EEN Serbia were successfully held, followed by a conference part dedicated to the SEECEL project “Women Entrepreneurship – A Job Creation Engine for SEE”. This project was supported by Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and implemented by Gender Task Force (GTF) from Zagreb and SEECEL (South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning).

During the second day, after the official opening of the conference, were discussed topics regarding Public Advocacy in the Region, Results and Opportunities of Joint Efforts and Access to Funding Sources as a Prerequisite for Sustainability of Women’s Businesses. These topics were grouped into two panel discussions and the participants were representatives of institutions and organizations relevant for women’s entrepreneurship in the region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

H. E. Mrs. Narinder Chauhan and H. E. Mrs. Vera Jovanovski Tipko, PhD, the ambassadors of Republic of India and Republic of Macedonia attended the Conference. Respectable guests and seniors officials from relevant public and international institutions, members of local and regional Associations of Business Women, women entrepreneurs from the region, members of ABW Serbia, donors and friends, and media representatives attended this international conference.

Conclusions of the Conference

The participants of the conference and members of Forum for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development defined the conclusions of the Conference.

Forum for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development was formed in March 2015 by associations, women entrepreneurs, experts and representatives of institutions, relevant for promotion of women entrepreneurship in Serbia.

The participants agreed that it is possible to form a Regional network for women’s entrepreneurship development. This regional network should help define unique messages for policy makers about relevant fields for promotion of environment for SMEs and women entrepreneurs. Important topics to be dealt with are: inclusion of women entrepreneurs in supply chains, issues of ethical and moral behavior in business, education, access to finance.

The most important dimension is the advocating process of systematic solutions for promotion and development of small and medium-sized enterprises. These solutions are already defined in principles of the Small Business Act for Europe. Women entrepreneurs should fight for these solutions through regional initiatives and joint suggestions to policy-makers in regional countries.

The participants of the conference agreed that in Western Balkans, and each country individually, there is scope for promotion of adequate infrastructure for financial support to women businesses as necessary prerequisite for their sustainability, growth and development. New forms and access to finance are necessary since the existing ones are insufficiently developed, short-termed and expensive. Micro enterprises need customized loans with lower interest rates and longer repayment period. The repayment. These loans should take into consideration the property status of women entrepreneurs, since usually they are not the owners of the asset needed as collateral for bank loan.

Forum for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development, the Association of Business Women of Serbia and other related organizations will advocate for the adoption of public policies which should provide new and easier access to finance for women entrepreneurs. There organizations will also mediate in negotiations with different funds for entrepreneurial support. The main objective is to represent all advantages and potential of investment in women businesses.