Female Entrepreneurs´Meetings in the Baltic Sea Re.. (FEM)
Female Entrepreneurs´Meetings in the Baltic Sea Region
Date du début: 14 août 2004,
Date de fin: 13 août 2008
FEM has promoted womens access to labour markets and entrepreneurship and strengthened the role of women in local and regional development by e.g. training, mentoring, networking and creating meeting-places. Gender sensitivity and gender mainstreaming have been key issues in the project. The aim has been to produce sustainable positive changes in the attitudes, processes and methods of economic and regional policies at individual, local, regional, national and international levels. The experiences of supporting women have been transferred between the W-BSR-countries and E-BSR-countries. The whole BSR profits from using "best practices" of the participating countries and thus more women are encouraged and supported to become entrepreneurs. Noticing gender and womens innovations, businesses and labour force as a comprehensive factor in regional economic competitiveness and affluence will bring added value to the development policies at local, regional and international levels in the BSR area.At individual level the women involved in the FEM project, especially in the E-BSR, have gone through big changes: they have noticed the possibilities in their own countries, in their own regions and municipalities. This means e.g. new micro businesses and entering to the labour force or political career. There is also a remarkable positive change in the women entrepreneurs’ attitudes and capacities in international cooperation (e.g. language and ICT skills).The transnational network of FEM included relevant actors in regional and entrepreneurial development: national, regional and local public authorities, associations, public corporations, foundation, public university etc. Within the sub-themes also smaller multi- and bilateral networks were created.Organisations and authorities involved have gained knowledge of gender in development processes, learnt more about women in business/labour market and methods of business development. There have been business contacts and new projects between the organisations, businesses and individuals involved.The Womens Resource Centres (WRC) formed the backbone of FEM and a nest for other activities, work-packages. The aim of the Resource Centre for women is to support local and regional development by promoting the integration of women into the economic, social and political life. The WRCs build upon the methodology of empowerment. After FEM there are 21 new WRCs (in Estonia, Latvia and Poland 5 and in Lithuania 6). Some of the countries have ensured the financial support of the centres’ continuations. All the centres belong to the network of WinnetEurope (www.winneteurope.eu) through which they will continue the cooperation. The WRCs will be a consultative and activating framework, a counselling and mentoring service, a tool for increasing knowledge, innovations and capacities to promote the Equal Opportunities policies in the regions involved and as an international network.The network and internationalisation of business advisors got a good start. The access to ICT was realised, in many cases, by providing a pc and internet connection. FEM also promoted e-commerce training, portal-advising and published a guide for internationalisation. This encouraged women to create their own home-pages. The readiness for e-trade was overestimated in the planning of the project and so as well possibilities to build a portal for women entrepreneurs. However, the need to strengthen the capacities in internationalisation was recognised everywhere and this message was also forwarded to national authorities in the partner countries. There were initiatives for starting an exchange programme for micro entrepreneurs. Achievements: As a method to support of womens entrepreneurship mentoring models were used and developed. Mentoring became an appreciated and widely used method in most FEM countries. Especially group mentoring was a success. There have been 23 mentoring groups and 34 pairs active. The model has been further developed in order to better fit in the respective countries circumstances. For the future projects there were mentoring manuals prepared in the countries. There is a big demand for mentoring and it continues with new groups and pairs and new projects have already been started.Different forms of micro credit, both individual and group credit, have been used in the project. There have been 21 networking credit groups (in Estonia 6, in Latvia 15 and in Sweden 10). Especially the micro credit in groups has been developed further in the form of network credit based on the Norwegian experiences and expertise. There are plans of a bank specialised on micro credits and some organisations have promised to support the financing.The practical internationalisation of women entrepreneurs have taken place along the whole project and inside all the work-packages. The entrepreneur presentations in the www.feminfo.net have been popular and useful in order to learn the basics to e-marketing. A model and a guide how to internationalise “The Seven Steps of Internationalisation” has been published in the web-sites.The www.feminfo.net and the national partner websites were the key element and core of the dissemination of the FEM-project. The outside evaluation of the project can be downloaded on the feminfo.net. It gives a thorough basis for analysing the successes and future challenges of the FEM network and more generally of the enhancement of gender aspects in regional and business development.
Kaunas Castle, Pilies g. 17, Kaunas 44275, Lithuania
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