In Slovakia and Austria, like much of Europe, women represent only a third of entrepreneurs.
So to try to redress the balance, a major initiative was set up four years ago.
In Hainburg, Austria Luica Haquel launched her architecture firm in 2008. After freelancing for three years, she had to concede that her international training and excellent technical knowledge had not prepared her to be a business woman.
Luica became interested in the project Regionfemme founded jointly by the Chambers of Commerce in Bratislava and Vienna and Association of Women in Business in Slovakia.
She said: “I really need business training. I need to know how to run one, how to get new contracts, how to market it. Actually, everything related to business.”
Luica has taken part in several seminars and workshops on these issues, and obtained vital information about the legal aspects of operating her business both in Slovakia and Austria.
As a result she is having more success and winning bigger contracts.
“At the moment I’m finalising a very big project,” says Lucia. “Fifteen apartments with an area of 1,000 square metres. This could give me work for three years, and would lead me to create jobs in my business.”
In all 2,200 women have participated in the Regionfemme project . In Austria and Slovakia.
Today the Regionfemme project is known across Europe. Last year it was nominated for the European Prize for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship. Ivana Kondasova works for the Bratislava Regional Chamber of SCCI as a Project manager of Regionfemme:
“One of the pillars of the Regionfemme project was the Academy for women start-ups entrepreneurs. There were 50 participants in Bratislava. 33 of them started their own business. In Austria out of 57 participants 23 created businesses.”
Ivana says the project also removes barriers that normally hinder female entrepreneurs: “They get information, motivation, inspiration, advise, new contacts and cooperations. Women can share their experiences. This gave them courage and confidence.”
Luica explained: “For me, the key to success is follow your gut, do what you love, help customers realise their dreams and tell the whole world what you’re doing!”