AuthorCastellano, Letizia; Skonieczna, Agnieszka
EU and country mapping key takeaways
This annex provides a mapping12 of female-oriented initiatives on entrepreneurship and investment at
EU level, in the EU Member States and in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Israel.
Overall, the Global gender ga p report published by the World Economic Forum (2018) confirms that,
of the gaps relating to gender disparity, that regarding economic participation and opportunity13 is the
most difficult to close. At the current rate, it will take 202 years to reach parity in that context. The
report explains that globally (world average) only 58% of the economic participation and opportunity
gap has been closed.
These results reflect the fact that women encounter significant obstacles in taking on managerial or
senior official roles and that income gaps are particularly persistent.
The report also reveals that trends for managerial opportunities for women are particularly uneven
across countries: 60 countries had reduced the gap from the year before, 50 had regressed, while the
gap had remained the same for 34 countries.
The EU performs on average better than the rest of the world, with almost 30% of the gap still to
be closed. However, the values and associated global ranking vary significantly across Member States.
Table 214 shows how some countries have already closed more than 75% of the gap, ranking among
the top 20 countries worldwide, while others perform less well, showing a large gap in participation
and opportunities across genders.
12 The mapping is based on publicly available sources of information and desk research. It is not exhaustive and may be
constrained by language barriers and other limitations. It represents work in progress an d will be developed on the basis
of feedback received and gaps identified.
13 The economic participation and opportunity gap is a sub-index composed of the participation gap (difference between
women and men in labour force), the remuneration gap ratio (estimated female-to-male earned income and wage eq uality
for similar work) and the advancement gap (ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and
technical and professional workers).
The world ranking for the Economic p articipation and opportunity gap of each Member State is shown in the columns
ofthe graph.
Table 2
EU countries
Non-EU countries
Against this background, the following two sections summarise the mapping of activities at EU and
Member State level to promote women’s entrepreneurship and investment.
A. EU initiatives
The Commission promotes female entrepreneurship through the Small Business Act (SBA) and the
Entrepreneurship2020 action plan, which focuses on initiatives using various instruments to promote
networking among female entrepreneurs, potential female entrepreneurs and support organisations. A
number of initiatives have been developed in recent years to support female entrepreneurs, such as the
European gateway for women’s entrepreneurship (WEgate) and the European network of women web
entrepreneurs. Initiatives on the investor side are more embryonic, pioneered by Commission
(DG GROW) support for networks of female business angels in response to the European Parliament’s
preparatory action. The Commission also provides policy advice and organises prizes for women
The investment support under EU financial instruments and EFSI does not specifically target female
entrepreneurship or female investors. Female entrepreneurs have been supported under general
products, such as guarantees facilities for SMEs and microfinance. One of the objectives of the EaSI
programme is to promote equality between women and men, including through gender mainstreaming.
Both facilities include reports on gender15 based on survey data.
The EIB grants framework loans with a specific focus and target for female entrepreneurs. Equity
support from the European Investment Fund (EIF) includes some investments in funds with female
founders and/or a gender-focused investment strategy. Current investment initiatives (EU financial
instruments and EFSI) do not include systemic gender mainstreaming or an overarching/strategic focus
on gender.
B. Member States’ initiatives
The mapping of Member States’ initiatives shows a large diversity in terms of tools deployed and
types of activities supported for women entrepreneurs and investors. Most of the initiatives can be
grouped in the following categories:
1. education, training & business support entrepreneurs gain knowledge through classes,
in-company training, etc. This also includes specialised business development services;
2. funding initiatives provide or facilitate financing through market operators or grant it
directly. This includes grants, financial instruments, prizes and matching with investors;
3. mentoring and networking participants are granted access to a network of (female)
entrepreneurs/investors and mentors; and
4. resear ch and information-sharing the initiatives focus on awareness-raising, mainstreaming
or research on female entrepreneurship.
The most common form of support is mentoring and networking (45% of the activities screened).
15 Promote equality between women and men, including through gender mainstreaming (Article 4 .2(b) of the EaSI
Delegation Agreement).
EIF EaSI reporting on gender data: aggregate breakdown of final recipient (FR) between male/female (number & %),
details of FR employees at the date of co ntract signature and ex post (number, gender). Social enterprises activities:
strengthening democracy, civil rights and/or gender equality (EaSI Delegation Agreement).
Facilitating funding is in second place with 32 activities, but far behind networking initiatives
(networking activities are almost twice as common). There are 23 training and business support
initiatives, while research and information-sharing, including voluntary codes for gender diversity, is
the least common form of support with only 16 activities.
It is important to note that the same initiative can fall into more than one category. This often reflects
the need for integrated support for female entrepreneurship, e.g. combined provision of funding and
learning and/or networking. In fact, 35% of the initiatives involve more than one form of support.
Support for women entrepreneurs is much more pronounced than for women investors. Support
for women investors and business angels is less common and usually developed through networking
initiatives. Women entrepreneurs receive more comprehensive support, including for identifying
available sources of financing, business creation and growth, and some countries also offer dedicated
financial instruments (e.g. the Egalité femmes guarantee in France for company creation or transfer).
Financing focuses mostly on market-based funding, followed by matchmaking and direct awards
(prizes, grants). Of 32 funding activities, 17 provide market-based financing (10 provide loans and 7
give equity), 5 facilitate financing by matching investors with entrepreneurs, 8 give grants or prizes
and 2 countries provide targeted tax incentives. Of the 32 funding activities, 28% (9) are underpinned
by EU support; these mostly involve loans or equity support.
France and Canada are the only countries in our screening that have central strategies endorsed at
the highest level to support female entrepreneurship. These include access to finance and tailored
advice (see box below).
Overcoming the barriers requires strong cooperation between the private and public sectors. Mapping
shows that the private and the public sectors endorse investment challenges for female entrepreneurs
and investors, but there is a higher number of private initiatives (42 vs 32). For 15 initiatives, the
private sector joins forces with national governments or European financial institutions (e.g. EIB
Group, EBRD and Enterprise Ireland) in programmes targeting female entrepreneurs.
Highlights from country mapping
In 2013, the French Ministries of Women’s Rights, and National Education, Higher Education and
Research, and the Delegate Ministry for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy launched the
Entreprendre au féminin plan, which aims to increase the number of enterprises founded by women and
maximise their contribution to economic development. The plan is structured around three pillars:

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