Home Startups Women from North Macedonia are paving the way for the future

Women from North Macedonia are paving the way for the future

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Brilliant, talented, dedicated – Women entrepreneurs from North Macedonia are changing our lives for the better… and making history along the way. By recognizing their success, we pave the way for more to come. North Macedonia and other Balkan countries are exploiting one of their greatest potentials: women!

From microcloning to educational platforms and innovative incubators. The women of North Macedonia have demonstrated true entrepreneurial spirit by providing high-quality products and services.

©Scamper on FB

One of the examples is Scamper – an educational and research organization aimed at helping preschool children adapt to the challenges of the digital age through the use of innovative, evidence-based educational programs. then, we have Facilities Engineering – a company that implements cutting-edge technology for the production of in vitro cultures from various plant species including vegetables, fruits, horticultural, aromatic and medicinal herbs.

Liljana Simjanovska has a truly fascinating story to share. After spending 20 years at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts researching molecular biology and 15 years as an embryologist in the private health sector, in 2008 she patented her own invention – an incubator for cell culture with ionizing air, for which she won the prize. State Patent of the Year Award. She then participated in numerous international innovation fairs, won 14 awards for her invention and improved her patent in 2019.

Simjanovska co-founded a company that received a co-financing grant from FITD last year and is currently developing the first prototype of her incubator.

doctorate Liljana Simjanovska – personal archives

So, what does it actually do? It uses natural crystals, negative ions and sound vibrations to influence cells at the molecular level. Specifically, Simjanovska studies the structure of cellular DNA. His research could potentially eradicate hereditary diseases, rejuvenate eggs in women, reverse changes and cure sperm deficiencies.


According to data from the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development (FITD), the largest number of female owners or managers is in the IT sector (20%), followed by engineering and the food industry (around 12%). All other industries rank below 7% in terms of the number of women in leadership positions.

“In the latest open call for co-financing grants for technological development, in the evaluation and selection process, priority is given to companies led by women and from different regions. The aim is to encourage female entrepreneurship and balance regional development,” Kosta Petrov, director of FITD, told Trending Topics SEE.

However, beyond technology, it is evident that women have left a “unique” mark in all disciplines. They patent innovations and manage start-ups in the fields of biology, geology, energy, marketing, education, etc.

+++Bulgaria has the second highest percentage of female scientists and engineers in the EU+++

Besides making a living, research suggests that the primary motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, is necessity-driven entrepreneurship. When it comes to women, the practical examples tell a pretty interesting story.

As Simjanovska pointed out

“Balkan women have this incredible ability to “see the big picture”

and make the best of a situation. This could very well arise from their historical struggles.” Their ideas are often inspired by the environment in which they work, with the aim of contributing to this “big picture” and meeting the needs of their companies. Women entrepreneurs create businesses based on need, shaped by knowledge and driven by the desire that their success contributes to a better world.


©Stories of women entrepreneurs on FB

Initiatives supporting women entrepreneurs and innovators have seen both recognition and growing interest, demonstrating that North Macedonian society is ready to see more women in leadership positions. And who better than women to support women?

“The number of female founders or co-founders of companies has increased,” Nina Nikolikj, executive advisory board member and co-founder of the Startup Macedonia association and head of the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (SwissEP), told Trending Topics SEE.

Startup Macedonia is a major driver of the development of the Macedonian startup community – a platform that provides support, networking and expert advice to start-ups. Today, nearly 50% of the companies they work with are founded or co-founded by women. This is around 20% more than most of their Western Balkan regional partners.

In 2017, they launched the Womenpreneurs program, aimed at celebrating inspiring women in business and leadership positions, which two years later grew into a five-day bootcamp in North Macedonia. In 2020, it transformed into a regional event, uniting the Balkans in its mission to support early female founders. The online event welcomed more than 70 participants from 11 Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

©Stories of women entrepreneurs on FB

Valentina Disoska, president of the North Macedonian Business Women’s Association, hopes to see more women owning a business in the future. Speaking to Trending Topics SEE, she highlighted the crucial importance of gender-sensitive statistical data.

Identifying the need for advocacy, support and education for women entrepreneurs and drawing on her own experience as an entrepreneur, Valentina founded the association in 2010. Together with other associations and institutions, they designed the first strategy development of female entrepreneurship (2019-2023). ) – officially approved by the Ministry of Local Economy. The strategy was launched within the framework of a regional RCC project entitled “Women’s entrepreneurship – an engine for job creation”, implemented by GTF and SEECEL Croatia.

©Valentina Disoska on FB

Within the association, a Cluster for Women Entrepreneurship has been created, aiming to create opportunities and maximize the export potential of women-owned businesses. “The Balkan Platform for Women Entrepreneurs” was also created, through which we work on creating common products for joint participation in major global markets,” Disoska added.


The number of innovations patented by women has steadily increased over the past six years, but decreased significantly in 2020. The director of the National Industrial Property Office, Goran Geraismovski, explained this decline as a possible consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, emphasizing that the institution will continue its efforts to motivate women to innovate.

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that, unfortunately, women remain more vulnerable than men when it comes to professional and economic well-being. Two-thirds of those who lost their jobs during the crisis were women. The reasons can be attributed to two main factors: the still unequal role of women in the labor market (in terms of participation, likelihood of full-time employment, positions, remuneration, etc.) and a traditionalist culture that sees women as the primary caregivers within the household.

Now why is this overview important? Because it speaks directly to numbers that cannot be calculated: how many women have had brilliant ideas that have not seen the light of day? After all these years, it’s not enough to just cite statistics, is it? However, let us not forget that without statistics we are blind in policy making. Statistics are important because they provide a road map to the changes that need to take place and a constant reminder of the role we each play in ensuring equality. Real change happens from within – in every society, community and home – in the way each of us, as individuals, understands and perceives the world in which we live.

+++Behind the numbers: these are the women from the Bulgarian startup and innovation ecosystem you need to know+++


Over the past six years, a total of 204 patents have been registered in North Macedonia and belong to men, compared to only 48 to women. Among the companies supported by the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development, 63% are owned or managed by men and 37% by women. Regarding entrepreneurial activity, there are more than two male entrepreneurs for every female entrepreneur in North Macedonia.

Over the past 12 years, the United Nations Development Program, together with the Government of North Macedonia, has implemented the Self-Employment Program. Since 2007, the program has helped around 14,000 people turn their idea into a business, 35% of which were led by women.

On the other hand, SMEs constitute a driver of overall economic activity. North Macedonia is experiencing an increasingly favorable climate for entrepreneurship and technological development, particularly in Skopje, the capital, which is home to around 60% of all start-ups in the country. Add to this a growing awareness of gender-sensitive policies, and it can be assumed that if all cards are played right, women entrepreneurs in North Macedonia will have ample opportunities to unleash their full potential.

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