The idea of the Balkan Women Coalition rose and was developed from organizations from the wider Balkan area. Our aim is to create a stable and multinational network of institutions and organizations from the region in order to develop qualifications and help women in the business filed.
Gender inequality continues to be a significant issue worldwide. If we are to meet our UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,’ we must both increase resources for existing activities and understand the potential application of new approaches. Social enterprise is, in essence, a concept of business that takes social good as an equal priority to profit-making and seeks to bring about a ‘fairer economy’. So it is fitting to ask to what extent can social enterprise enable a fairer economy for women empowerment.
Social entrepreneurship is often underestimated within the EU, but its application to the issue of gender equality and social inclusion should not be seen in isolation from other measures. Social businesses employ over 11 million people in the EU which equals to 6% of total employment. Research has furthermore shown that many women are struggling with unemployment and lack of social perspectives, especially in small and rural communities. Overall, 9.5% of women in the EU are unemployed and are still facing barriers to employment, such as fewer promotional opportunities. In the area of selfemployment, the numbers are not much more promising; only 34.4% of women in Europe are self-employed even though being the larger population group (52% of the total European population is female). Social entrepreneurship can address these challenges.
On the one hand, the EC has stated that Social Enterprises ‘generate sustainable jobs and have a stronger resilience to the crisis than the general economy’. Furthermore, social entrepreneurship combines innovation and social inclusion, and hereby it broadly contributes to the objectives of the EU2020 strategy and the SDGs. On the other hand, women who do decide to set up their own business often choose to do this in the areas of health, social-work, services or education, areas that correlate deeply with the ‘social’ aspect of social entrepreneurship. Bringing both elements together gives the EU-community an opportunity to further develop the under-exploited creativity and entrepreneurial potential of women, in turn leading to economic growth and employability. Furthermore, with women’s empowerment remaining a significantly underfunded issue, social entrepreneurship is a promising but under-utilised source of funding for gender equality and social inclusion. Surely, this is an opportunity which much be capitalised on if we are at all committed to achieving our global targets.
The “Balkan Women Coalition vol. II – Social Start-Up Booster for Supporting Female entrepreneurship in Balkans” project sets out to establish how well social entrepreneurship addresses gender inequality and women’s empowerment in particular. The project’s main aim is to close the continuous entrepreneurial skills gap and lack of knowledge about social entrepreneurship among women, through an innovative approach that brings together women, social entrepreneurship and angel investment in a unique programme that will increase the number of successful social enterprises across Europe, improve gender equality and raise awareness of the importance of self-employment initiatives that focus on the support of social, cultural, or environmental issues.
The partnership will address and combine the areas of social entrepreneurship and female entrepreneurship, as these are both under-recognised and under-represented in the EU, in order to equip women who are thinking of setting up a social enterprise and female start-ups who want to increase their social impact with the skills, knowledge, best practices and latest community – based funding opportunities to set up and develop their ideas.
Through the development and piloting of the Angel Investment for Social Entrepreneurship – E-learning and MOOC Platform the project partners will build a socially engaged community by equipping it with an innovative and community-driven approach to attract funding and realise socially important project and initiatives. The project will develop a network of community leaders that will facilitate, build and ensure the sustainability of the project tools and results.
Increased skills, together with increased recognition of female social entrepreneurship will in turn increase women’s social inclusion as they are empowered to follow their selfemployment path. Particular emphasis will therefore also be given to women facing a double disadvantage (disabled women and women from rural areas) as they are even more under-represented in entrepreneurship.
Finally, Balkan Women Coalition vol. II project will increase awareness among policymakers through its training materials, outlining how to make social enterprise support more accessible and inclusive to women and double disadvantaged women. The project will hereby enable women to get their voices heard by policymakers and will help promote the importance of making social enterprise support available to the target group, and ensure that more women across Europe can set up their social businesses.
The objective of the B-WCo II project is to develop social entrepreneurial capacities amongst women and broaden their entrepreneurial mindset. The partnership aims to equip women who are thinking of setting up a social enterprise and female start-ups who want to increase their social impact, with the skills, knowledge, best practices and latest funding opportunities to set up and develop their ideas and initiatives. This will be done through the innovative methodology of Social Enterprise Booster Circle, Angel Investment for Social Entrepreneurship – E-learning and Pitching Platform, Boost Your Social Enterprise – A Comprehensive Training Programme towards building a socially involved community and Boost Your Social Enterprise – Training of Community Leaders.
Special emphasis will be given to women facing a double disadvantage (disabled women and women from rural areas) as they are even more under-represented in entrepreneurship (25-50% of participants will be women facing a double disadvantage).
Balkan Women Coalition vol. II brings together two important European dimensions: social entrepreneurship and the underrepresentation of women in the world of business. The project hereby aims to address an inherently transnational, EU-wide issue that aligns the Social Business Initiative as published by the EC in 2011 (covering the creation of a favourable climate for social enterprises) with the Entrepreneurship 2030 Action Plan by encouraging social self-employment among women. Small social enterprises are furthermore directly affected by a broad range of European legislation (such as the rules of the internal market), and it is, therefore, necessary to incorporate this transnational dimension in order to improve women’s awareness of the effect of the EU on their social enterprise. The partnership aims to support skills and competence development, increase networking opportunities through “Spread the word group”, encourage EU-business growth by boosting creativity, and further the setting up and growth of new/already existing social enterprises. The project will hereby boost and strengthen female social entrepreneurship, through a focus on employment for all while at the same time emphasising the importance of ‘ethical’ and ‘social’ principles underpinning the European perspective of sustainability and durability of the single market.