The WEP is looking to bring like-minded organisations together to exchange best practices and information, keeping both national and European associations abreast of happenings at EU level. The platform is engaged in promoting female entrepreneurship in Brussels and is the first point of contact for policy makers, politicians and stakeholders willing to press the issue further. The concrete missions and objectives of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform have been determined by the Members and are divided into short-term and long- term objectives. The main short-term objective is the exchange of good practices, as well as information, success stories and case studies. These exchanges will enable the Members to share their information and to be inspired for their own projects and programmes. Other short-term objectives are data collection. The collection of figures and statistics about women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment in the EU is essential to define the Platform’s advocacy positions. As far as long-term objectives are concerned, the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship on the EU scene is a key aspect of the WEP’s missions. Moreover, the development of advocacy positions and of funding strategies are two other major long-term objectives that the WEP has fixed.
WEP is addressed to
- Women entrepreneurship organisations and business organisations with a focus on women-led businesses
- European Union Institutions
- National Ministries of Labour and Social affairs, , Gender Equality, Justice and Home Affairs and others
- Non-governmental organisations supporting entrepreneurship
- Employers’ Organisations
Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth and competitiveness. Boosting entrepreneurship, including owners, management, the self-employed and employers, is expected to lead to 4 million new jobs annually within the EU. According to the reports on the Results of public consultation on The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, Women entrepreneurs constitute only 34.4% of the self-employed in the EU but 52% of the total European population, and even if they contribute actively to social and economic development, their entrepreneurial potential is underused. Women’s contributions are, indeed, likely to meet obstacles: unemployment, part-time employment, gender pay gap, etc. Moreover, women have been hit harder by the current financial and economic crisis in Europe and need to shape responses to its developments. Women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship are some of these responses, and need to be ranked among the top priorities of EU policies, as it would enable the improvement of national economies, increase productivity, as well as living standards, and enhance the well-being of children. All these elements need to be worked on as they have positive long-term impacts in society and this is why the Women Entrepreneurship Platform has been created. The investment in Women Entrepreneurship needs to begin at young age. Education programmes need to be implemented in order to allow the empowerment of girls and in order to encourage them to choose an activity in which they can be their own 'boss'. This education needs to be long-term and needs to also cover other fields, such as the elimination of gender stereotypes in the media, in schoolbooks, and in the orientation programmes put in place at the end of the schooling. Moreover, the investment in Women Entrepreneurship needs to continue until older age, after retirement, in order to offer more opportunities for women after a career or after having been a stay-at-home mum. Entrepreneurship after 60 years old needs to be encouraged to enable women to keep busy and to have a complementary salary by having their own activity.
The WEP’s field of action is networks: women entrepreneurs and the organisations to which they belong can find strength in numbers, and for this reason, the WEP acts to strengthen the bonds between its members as well as expanding the network to women entrepreneurs’ organisations from all the EU countries. By definition, entrepreneurship is a very lonely status, as it requires from its actor to build, manage and work on his/her own project. This is why meeting entrepreneurs who meet the same challenges through networking is fundamental. Studies have shown that networking opportunities for entrepreneurs affect entrepreneurial intent, entrepreneurial orientation and offer new perspectives. Social networks help entrepreneurs to acquire human (through advice, role models, information, etc), financial (funding, financial support, investment, etc) and social (social support, people to share ideas with, potential associates or investors, etc) capital. It is shown that entrepreneurs are seen as models, and people whose social network includes entrepreneurs are more likely to become entrepreneurs themselves. The more there are networks of women entrepreneurs, the more visible these women are, and the more economic and social growth is sustainable. Furthermore, business and social networks seem to be even more important for women than for men, because women are likely to struggle more to develop a stable network, as their careers may be interrupted by motherhood. Women who temporarily exit the work market often worry about the potential atrophy of their network and this is the reason why the federation of women’s associations and organisations in a stable, effective and reliable structure such as a Platform is particularly important.