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Women play an increasingly valuable role in the economy and own some 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) worldwide. Yet for most of the public today, any mention of the word ‘entrepreneur’ mainly conjures up images of successful men. At the Friends of Europe debate “Women entrepreneurs: Spearheading implementation of Agenda 2030” on 6 June 2018, five women panellists – entrepreneurs or donors – explored the challenges of surviving and thriving in a male-dominated business world.
Held during European Development Days 2018 in Brussels, the debate looked at ways that women entrepreneurs can contribute to Agenda 2030, also known as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Four of these goals are specifically relevant: gender equality; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and reduced inequalities.
“Women entrepreneurs are making great progress, but there’s still much untapped potential,” said moderator Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe. In her introduction, she pinpointed the main barriers for women determined to make their own way in the business world as access to finance; cultural, social and traditional hurdles; as well as education and training.