Promoting entrepreneurship

The first priority of the recent EU Communication, promoted by DG Enterprise, on the role of policies for SME's in implementing the Lisbon Strategy is promoting entrepreneurship and skills. Accordingly, governments around the world want to promote entrepreneurship.

Every start-up represent an experiment, and a great deal of experimentation is necessary to produce the occasional firm that can transform a nation’s economy—or even rise to international significance. Entrepreneurship is an incubator, and one that is essential to long-term economic growth.

Female entrepreneurship – a potential for the Norwegian economy

Norwegian women constitute three out of five students at our universities. Norway is also among the top nations in the world when it comes to female participation in the workforce. However, Norwegian women represent the minority amongst entrepreneurs. A study undertaken by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) indicates that in 2007 only 4.3 percent of the women versus 8.6 percent of men are involved in so-called early stage entrepreneurial activities. Figures from Statistics Norway show that in 2007 women represent barely one third of the new business start-ups of sole enterprises, and that only constitute one sixth of entrepreneurs of private limited companies. Private ownership is also imbalanced amongst genders: in 2007 only 26 percent of owners of sole enterprises and 27 percent of owners of private limited companies were women.

An action plan to promote entrepreneurship amongst women

Affirmative action to promote female entrepreneurship is not only considered as important to enhance gender equality and diversity in business and trade. Female underrepresentation amongst entrepreneurs also represents an unutilized potential for the Norwegian economy. By improving the condition for female entrepreneurs, making women a vigorous part of business and trade, we want to contribute to enhance economic diversity, increased job opportunities for women and economic growth.

It was against this background the Norwegian Government decided to formulate an Action Plan on how to promote entrepreneurship amongst women. The Action Plan is the first step towards the final objective which is women representing at least 40 percent of all entrepreneurs within 2013.

The Action Plan is urging for a strengthened focus on female entrepreneurship, especially in the existing and general public support system. Examples of more specific measures are: enhanced rights to maternity leave and parents’ relief for self-employed persons and increased grants to micro credit-projects.

The Action Plan is also initiating a research programme to improve the understanding of entrepreneurship among women.

Increased focus on entrepreneurship in education

Increased focus on entrepreneurship in education is considered as an important measure directed towards fostering a culture for entrepreneurship, and forms the basis the strategic plan “See the Opportunities and Make them Work.” The steering plan was launched in 2004 and has received international attention and inspired the European Commission’s initiative ”The Oslo Agenda for Entrepreneurship in Education.” The Government will launch an Action Plan for entrepreneurship in education which will replace the strategic plan this year. The new steering document will continue to focus on entrepreneurship in primary education, and strengthen the measures towards higher education.

Junior Acheivement-Young Enterprise Norway

Junior Acheivement-Young Enterprise Norway (JA-YE) is a non-profit organisation offering entrepreneurship training for the entire educational system, and is a central partner implementing some of the measures directed towards promoting entrepreneurship in education.

For more information see the web-page of Ja-YE Norway.