Women in Business Programme empowers female entrepreneurs across Eastern Partnership countries

Armenia Azerbaijan Georgia Moldova Ukraine
Women in Business Programme empowers female entrepreneurs across Eastern Partnership countries

In 2023, the Women in Business (WiB) programme made significant strides in empowering female entrepreneurs across the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region. Over the year, the programme produced impressive results, and made a tangible impact on the economic landscape.

One of the programme’s noteworthy achievements was the signing of 20 credit lines, totalling EUR 113.4 million, distributed among 13 local banks. The banks, located in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, used the funds to provide substantial support to women-led Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The credit lines reached 93% of the financing facility ceiling.

The Women in Business guarantee allowed to channel 8,509 sub-loans to women-led MSMEs, greatly surpassing the target of 3,000 sub-loans. This initiative, valued at over EUR 197.3 million, aims to mitigate the perceived risk associated with lending to women entrepreneurs. The guarantee, which is integral to the programme, incentivized local banks to provide financial assistance to an underdeveloped segment.

The programme is also supporting local and partner banks to enhance their business models and delivery mechanisms, tailoring financial and non-financial product packages for women entrepreneurs. These enhancements includes lighter collateral requirements, addressing gender bias, and developing digital components tailored for the WiB Programme.

Despite the ongoing Russian aggression against  Ukraine, the support for Bank Lviv continued with initiatives, such as implementing a survey to raise gender awareness among the staff. Moreover, Prime Capital in Moldova identified the WiB segment as strategic, and began promoting the concept of "First Lady in Business."

In addition, the programme implemented 626 business advisory projects directly with women entrepreneurs, provided in-person training to 1,319 female participants through Women in Business Workshops, and enrolled 80 women entrepreneurs in mentoring programmes. These initiatives facilitated skill transfer and contributed to the growth of women-led MSMEs.

Another impactful initiative spearheaded by the EU-EBRD programme is the Business Lens tool—a web-based, self-assessment tool designed to assist women-led MSMEs in understanding their business operations, identifying financing needs, and exploring development opportunities. This innovative tool, accessible via ebrdwomeninbusiness.com, provides women entrepreneurs with a platform to assess their businesses comprehensively.

Through these initiatives, the EU remains committed to fostering women's entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in the EaP region. By providing mentorship, training, and innovative tools, the EU’s and EBRD’s endeavours is to create a supportive ecosystem conducive to the success of women-led MSMEs.

Overall, the WiB programme's success in 2023 underscores its commitment to advancing women's economic empowerment and promoting entrepreneurship across the EaP region. By providing financial support, risk mitigation tools, and tailored business solutions, the programme continues to pave the way for women entrepreneurs to thrive and contribute to vibrant and inclusive economies.

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