Congress shows women's entrepreneurship good for economy
Nicosia, Mar 24 (CNA) - A congress on gender equality in business indicated that enhancing female entrepreneurship would substantively contribute to achieving equal participation of men and women in all sectors, boost the economy, create new jobs and contribute to meeting the Lisbon Strategy, which aims at making Europe the most competitive economy of the world by the year 2010.
The congress was titled ''Gender equality and the benefits of implementation in businesses'' and was held in Nicosia yesterday in the framework of the European programme ''Women in business, strengthening women's entrepreneurship.'' It was organised by the National Mechanism on Women's Rights, the European programme office Europro Consultants and the Cypriot Federation of Businesswomen and Professionals (KOGEE).
The delegates to the congress exchanged views, experiences and practices that were developed in Cyprus and other European countries, and the conclusions will be submitted on a local and European level as suggestions for measures to promote women's entrepreneurship.
KOGEE President Artemis Toumazi said it was imperative to strengthen women's entrepreneurship and referred to the Lisbon Strategy that aims at making Europe the most competitive economy of the world by the year 2010.
Despite the large number of women with the necessary education and abilities, the percentage of women entrepreneurs in Europe is just 25 percent of businesspeople, with Germany having 23%, Cyprus 12%, Greece 11% and Poland 9%, she said.
Toumazi mentioned the results of research that indicated that one in five women choose self-employment to unemployment, compared to one in fifteen men.
She noted that strengthening women's entrepreneurship would boost economic growth and would contribute to innovation, adding that the main reason women's participation in business was the lack of financial support, difficulties in finding capital, the multiple roles of women in society, stereotypes and biases.
Toumazi referred to two of Cyprus' practices, which other countries have begun to follow, namely the first women's cooperative bank in the world, which was established four years ago and is profitable, and the consulting office Europro Consultants.
Ministry of Justice and Public Order Permanent Secretary Andis Tryfonides said that over the past years there has been a constant and steady improvement of the status and role of women in the socioeconomic life of Cyprus.
He said the European programme ''Women in business, strengthening women's entrepreneurship'' aimed at removing the obstacles that prevented the development of women's entrepreneurship and create favourable conditions to put the business dynamism of women to good use.
Tryfonides noted that the Ministry had submitted a new proposal in the framework of the European programme for gender equality, which would address the role of men in promoting equality and especially the role of men and fathers in reconciling professional and private life, thus changing the stereotype concepts on the roles of men and women.
Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Permanent Secretary Andreas Petrondas said the government's policy fully complied with the EU's guidelines, adding that it was committed to promoting action that would enhance the business spirit.
He noted that in the context of this policy, the Ministry had begun implementing programmes to enhance the entrepreneurship of women and youths, in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
Petrondas said these programmes offered a 50 percent grant with a ceiling of 35,000 Cyprus pounds per business, and almost a 100 percent cover of the cost of relevant seminars for those who will join the programmes.
President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vassilis Rologis called on KOGEE to make itself known to the public and expressed hope that in three months the Federation would double its members.
He also assured KOGEE that it would have the Chamber's support in every effort to strengthen women's entrepreneurship and expressed certainty that the situation in Cyprus would improve with more women entering business activities.
''We are at your disposal for every support and assistance. We can open the way for you towards Europe,'' Rologis said and gave a few examples of women with a serious role in business, the economy, the society and politics.