5th issue




About the Forum

The sixth edition of the “Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs Forum” was hosted by SEGE (Greek Association of Businesswomen) and co-organized by SEGE, AFAEMME (Association of Organisations of Mediterranean Businesswomen) and ASCAME (Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry).

The event, which took place in the framework of the FEMALE ENTREPRENEURIALWEEK, was an important opportunity for Mediterranean women entrepreneurs to establish business contacts in key sectors for the economic development of the region as well as to share success stories and good practices and to analyze the role of women in the development of the region’s economies.

Celebrating its 6th edition, the Forum offered a permanent platform for dialogue, discussions, sharing of experiences and networking that will bring new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Data about women entrepreneurs in Europe

  •  From 40.6 million active entrepreneurs 29% (11.6 million) are women.
  • 78% of women versus 81% of men are Solo Entrepreneurs while 22% of women versus 29% of men are employers.
  •  In Albania, France, Italy, Portugal and the Republic of Macedonia the percentage of Micro-Enterprises ownership is higher among women than among men.

Percentage of entrepreneurs sector

  •  Human health and social work activities: 60% women vs. 40% men
  • Education Sector: 55% women vs. 45% men
  • Information and Communications Sector: 19% of women vs. 81% men
  • Transportation Sector: 7% women vs. 93% men

Age distribution of entrepreneurs

  • 15-24: 3% women vs. 2% me
  • 25-49: 59% women vs. 58% men
  • 50-64: 32% women vs. 33% men
  • +65: 6% women vs. 7% men

Educational level of women entrepreneurs

  •  Middle Level Education: 41% women (vs. 40% men)
  • Highest levels of women’s education in: Belgium • Estonia • Germany • Ireland • Luxembourg
  •  Lowest levels of women’s education in: Albania • Croatia • Malta • Portugal • Turkey                                           (All Mediterranean countries…)

Highest women entrepreneurship rates:

Albania • Croatia • Greece • Italy • Portugal (Mediterranean countries)

Lowest women entrepreneurship rates:

Denmark • Estonia • Liechtenstein • Norway • Sweden (Non-Mediterranean countries)

Data from 2012 referred to the 28 EU member states + Albania, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein,

Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.

SOURCE: European Commission (2014), Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe. 

Key points

  • Women are generally much better educated but are not represented in highlevel jobs.
  •  A better policy framework, more institutional support and more public-private dialogue would contribute to the promotion of high quality women entrepreneurship.

Mediterranean region economies

General Data

  • The MED region has a total population of 185 million
  • Most MED economies lack the natural resource abundance of other MENA countries.
  • Algeria is the only oil rich economy, with mineral fuels and oil products representing 97% of all exports.
  • Some of the MED economies, as the Egypt one, have relevant petroleum and gas exports.
  • Israel is the only economy with a well-developed high-technology industry.
  •  The Egyptian and Tunisian economies have registered negative effects derived from their political transition processes.
  • Jordan and Lebanon have also experienced economic pressures derived from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
  •  In the majority of MED economies, between 15% and 35% of people aged 15-24 are unemployed.

SMEs in the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa

SMEs in the region 

  • Represent the vast majority of firms
  • Account for between half to three quarters of total employment
  •  Substantially contribute to innovation and value creation Economies in the region are engaged in proactive polities to support SMEs Governments in the region have responded to the existing opportunities and challenges by structuring policy support for SMEs and creating incentives for growth and job creation. Some of the initiatives are:
  •  Improving business environments through comprehensive initiatives involving key partners – including the private sector, providing coordination platforms and including legislative and regulatory reforms to facilitate enterprise creation, operations and growth (Lebanon and Morocco).
  • Enhancing policy coherence and coordination by including SME policy as key element of wider economic and competitiveness policies (Morocco), developing SME strategies (Jordan) and designating lead agencies or bodies for policy coordination (Algeria, Israel and Palestine).
  • Improving access to finance by increasing the coverage and support of credit guarantee schemes (Palestine), introducing or strengthening credit bureaus (Palestine), including private ones (Egypt and Morocco) and introducing registries for movable assets (Algeria, Jordan and Tunisia).
  • Enhancing enterprise development through targeted services and specialized institutions (Egypt), facilitating foreign trade procedures (Tunisia), enhancing the availability of training for SMEs and women entrepreneurs and developing good practices in entrepreneurial learning for young people (all economies).

Women entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa 

  •  Some economies have made substantial progress through

1. top-down coherent policy development

2.the establishment of bottom-up national support networks

  •  But the context for promoting women’s entrepreneurship remains limited given the lack of concerted efforts by governments, businesses and civic society.
  • The need for education and training for women entrepreneurs is especially important given the absence of established provision and networks.
  •  Improved training and more developed mentoring services are required to ensure women are better placed to contribute to the wider competitiveness drive in each MED economy.
  • Mentoring is crucial across all phases of business and where women’s selfconfidence and efficacy are critical determinants in a woman’s decision to start and develop a business.
  •  In the MED economies there are measures to prepare women for entrepreneurship careers, including follow-up support through mentoring and advisory services but, as policy contexts addressing women’s entrepreneurship are weak and support structures lack co-ordination and synergy, there is little scale and impact of women on the enterprise environment and national economies.
  • It is a priority to establish an accredited southern Mediterranean women’s entrepreneurship network.
  •  Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Palestine demonstrate the potential for more strategic developments on women’s entrepreneurship policy, with networks and structures playing a policy dialogue or policy-lobbying function.

Key points

  •  More strategic developments on women’s entrepreneurship policy are needed.
  •  Training and mentoring services for women entrepreneurs have to be improved.
  • Regional women entrepreneurship networks play a key role. 
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