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Launch of a roadmap to support female entrepreneurship in North Macedonia

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An EBRD-funded study aimed at encouraging female entrepreneurship in North Macedoniaentitled “Roadmap for a gender-responsive investment climate”, was launched today in Skopje.

The launch event was opened by the Minister of Economy of North Macedonia, Kreshnik Bekteshi. Participants included the EBRD, the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedoniapolicy makers, business representatives and civil society.

The roadmap, drawn up by Marija Risteska under the aegis of the Western Balkan Businesswomen (WiB) program, will inform policy makers and other stakeholders on ways to increase female entrepreneurship. It recommends in particular:

  • integrate gender into investment policy – investment policies must include gender objectives and criteria, as well as direct support for sectors in which businesses led or owned by women operate.

  • develop support services for businesses owned and managed by women – this includes startup services such as incubators and accelerators that integrate a gender perspective into their operations or provide specific services to businesses led or owned by women.

  • improve access to finance and markets for businesses led or owned by women – this could include measures such as digitalisation, gender-specific taxation, including gender criteria in grant, grant and loan schemes, as well as opening a window for businesses run or owned by women in the country’s new Guarantee Fund, which supports financing for small and medium-sized businesses. large businesses (SMEs) and traders.

Aneta Krstevska, Chief Economist at the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia, commented: “The new roadmap adds to the work previously carried out by the National Bank and other financial regulators when preparing the first national strategy for financial education and inclusion 2021-2025. , which detected gender and other gaps in financial education and inclusion, and identified action points. North Macedonia is committed to improving female entrepreneurship opportunities with our partners.

These comments were echoed by Andi Aranitasi, Head of the EBRD in North Macedonia: “The roadmap shows how the EBRD’s approach to policy dialogue is geared towards improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women business. More specifically, the EBRD will seek to narrow the financial gender gap by working with partner financial institutions to help them improve the collection, analysis and awareness-raising of gender-disaggregated data, as well as strengthen their capacity to breaking gender stereotypes in lending.

The Roadmap highlights that, despite the country’s well-developed political and legal framework, women are still underrepresented among North Macedonia’s business leaders, as they own only a third of the country’s businesses. . Women-led businesses are also systematically smaller and less represented in sectors with higher growth potential, and are often trapped in the small and micro enterprise segment, representing only a small fraction of certain economic activities, such as trade and services.

Support for business women

The EBRD has a long history of helping women access entrepreneurship opportunities, notably through its Women in Business (WiB) Program. The programme, active in 24 economies, has to date provided €900 million in financing and business advice to more than 100,000 women-led SMEs and 58 partner financial institutions.

Since the launch of the WiB program in the Western Balkans in 2014 – the first program of its kind in the region – the EBRD has provided more than €60 million to its partner financial institutions to on-lend to managed SMEs by women. This, combined with the wide range of advisory, training, mentoring and networking activities offered by the EBRD, has helped more than 7,500 women entrepreneurs grow and grow their businesses. In the Western Balkans, 12 banks and financial institutions have joined the program so far.

In North Macedonia, the WiB program is available through NLB Banka and Ohridska Banka. Consulting services under the program are supported by donor funds from Sweden And Luxembourg.

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