Women entrepreneur take-off point

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Based on emulation and individual support, the "Naisyrittäjän Lähtöruutu" project (Woman entrepreneur take-off point) in Savo (Finland) aims to encourage as many women as possible to establish and successfully grow their own business.

Contents

Project context

The figures speak for themselves: women make up 48.6% of Finland's working population but just 30% of entrepreneurs are women.

In addition, the sectors where women tend to be employed still make relatively little use of new technologies. Yet advanced communications technology could enable women to choose sectors of activity with the highest added value, and which are therefore better paid have greater commercial potential.

What is true for Finland as a whole is even more so for the Savo region, in the centre-east of the country. Unemployment here is very high and the socio-professional opportunities for women are further limited by the region's relative isolation. Savo suffers from negative migration, which has a bigger impact on women than men due to insufficient economic diversity. The proportion of women entrepreneurs in Savo is also lower than for the rest of Finland, hence the idea for the Structural Funds initiative to implement a comprehensive support system for women entrepreneurs.

Previous measures, such as the "Weera" (Employment Now) and "Savotar/Enrec" (under the European Recite II programme), have demonstrated the limits of traditional measures for combating unemployment in outlying regions and revealed the specific problems facing women entrepreneurs.

Following on from these, but under the Eastern Finland Objective 1 programme, the "Naisyrittäjän Lähtöruutu" (Woman Entrepreneur Take-Off Point) project aims to find better solutions by financing both infrastructure and training for women.

Description of activity

Firstly, the project made it possible to set up resource centres for women entrepreneurs seeking to improve their skills, and for unemployed women and students planning to become self-employed.

In addition to providing computers, photocopiers, telecopiers and other equipment, these centres offer advice, and support for the production of printed (promotional brochures, business cards, etc.) and electronic (websites) products.

Training courses are also run, some based on home study. These provide women entrepreneurs and, in some cases, their employees (male and female) with the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge at their own convenience. The use of modern information technology makes it possible to improve computing skills while also creating links, and even partnerships, between the participants and between participants and educational establishments.

These resource centres are usually based in polyvalent structures, which also house other activities (community, socio-health, etc.). This helps to stimulate and give direction to the creation of new companies in local sectors of opportunity: companies linked to health and well-being are recent examples.

Individual support

Above all, however, the resource centres act as a first port of call for women entrepreneurs. After an identification of needs, each participant is individually assessed. On this basis they are then issued with a training coupon enabling them to follow a specific training path and to benefit from counselling and tutoring. An orientation counsellor helps them to select the bodies which offer these services. The fields most often selected include: enterprise creation, leadership, marketing and sales techniques, networking, product development, and quality management.

"Field" trips throughout the country enable women entrepreneurs from Savo to exchange their experiences with women in similar positions on other Finnish regions. The "take-off point" also gives them the opportunity to attend trade fairs.

Seminars or meetings in small groups are also held in line with the needs and desires of the participants. Stress management workshops are also sometimes organised.

The project has a total budget of EUR 734 170 for the period from April 2002 to December 2004. By the autumn of 2003, 75 women entrepreneurs had taken part in the project, 268 counselling sessions on company management had been given, and 350 people had benefited from the various services available.

Notes and references

Project: 'Naisyrittäjän Lähtöruutu' (Woman entrepreneur take-off point),

Programme: Eastern Finland Objective 1 programme

Total cost EUR 734 170

EU contribution n.c.

Contact Naisyrittäjän Lähtöruutu

Woman Entrepreneur Take-Off Point

Ylä-Savo Vocational Institute

Project Manager

Majamaa, Terhi Pohjolankatu 9 B FIN-74100 , Iisalmi

Suomi/Finland

Tel.: + 358-17-820 5900 Fax: + 358-17-8205901

E-Mail: terhi.majamaa@ysao.fi http://www.ysao.fi/Ylasavo/Ammattiopisto/projekti.nsf