About a third of entrepreneurs in Europe are women. It’s true that isn’t always easy, in the face of well-worn stereotypes, to construct a professional network and get access to business financing. But in Larnaca in Cyprus, 350 women got toether and created a cooperative bank which has revolutionised entrepreneurship amongst women in the country.
Set up in 2000, this bank specialises in small loans up to 100,000 euros, with flexible repayment plans, grace periods of up to 2 years, interest rates around 4%, and the possibility of accessing funds within 48 hours. Artemis Tourmazi is an ambassador for Female Entreneurship in Europe. CEO of the bank since the beginning, she is proud of their achievements: “In the ten years since we started, with all these combined efforts, we managed to increase our percentage from 10/12% at the begining to almost 30% in 2010. Which is amazing.”
Anna Karyda’s company looks after, cleans, and maintains cars for passengers at Larnaca airport. When the company expanded in 2005, the bank lent her 60,000 euros; 10% of the necessary investment. But as well as financing, Anna got advice and access to the bank’s professional network.
Anna Karyda, Director of Drive and Fly said: “They supported our idea. They encouraged us. They helped us with the company’s business plan, and of course they gave us information when wanted financing from m other financial institutes. They gave us very good information about banking with them, and getting financing on good terms from other institutes. That was very important for us.”
Working with the bank, meant that Anna worked with The European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors which exists in 22 EU member states and which aims to help women succeed in business.
Anna Karyda said: “For me the keys to success are working long hours, being reliable about what you say and what you do. And of course, finding the right person, the right association, the right associates and partners so as to create a good team around you, to support you in every way.”