About 25 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Croatia are run by women, but the potential is much bigger, with further growth expected due to the increasing support from financial institutions, it was said at a conference on women in business held in Zagreb on Thursday.
The conference was organised by the Croatian Postal Bank (HPB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The latest data shows that women usually start their own business aged 35-44, and 15 women, and five men, out of 100 unemployed people start a business.
The HPB has recognised the potential of women entrepreneurs and is creating programmes for SME financing, such as projects which create added value and jobs, and stimulate excellence and entrepreneurial boldness, said HPB executive Antonija Zoric.
The EBRD has had an active programme for women entrepreneurs in Croatia for years, including financing and consulting, often crucial for launching projects, said the EBRD director for Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Slovakia, Vedrana Kasic-Jelusic.
Their €400 million scheme for women entrepreneurs, offering dedicated credit lines, training and tailored advice, is present in 17 countries and used by about 35,000 small and medium-sized companies.
Over 80 percent of companies run by women in the EBRD programme have increased their revenues, and some 60 percent have increased employment, productivity, and exports, Kasic-Jelusic said, adding that the potential in Croatia was big, but the infrastructure had to be stronger.
Over 250 women entrepreneurs have joined the EBRD programme so far and almost a half of them were business owners.
Women's enterprise was not just a question of equity and equality but an economic one too, as encouraging women to get into business and strengthening women's enterprise contributes to a stronger economy, Kasic-Jelusic said.