For every dinar of support to female entrepreneurs, nearly five awarded to businesses owned by men

Women act as the owners of only 31.7% entrepreneurial entities and businesses in Serbia, while only one in five businesses receiving support funds through open calls for business development are owned by women. This situation threatens to further minimize women’s engagement in the world of business and their contribution to economic development, as shown in NALED's report prepared for the needs of UN Women Office within the project “Gender Analysis of Economic Programs and Financial Measures in Serbia”.

The report focused on scanning four areas – support programs for micro, small and medium enterprises on the national and local level, local government open calls for supporting civil society organizations and programs by Innovation Fund – as well as their effect on gender equality.

- Over the period 2016-2018, slightly more than a billion dinars has been awarded through six open calls on the national level, of which 841.5 million was allocated to businesses owned by men, and 183.7 million to female entrepreneurs, accounting for only 17.9% of the total fund. For every dinar awarded to women, there were 4.6 granted to men. The analysis has shown that open calls are equally open for women and men, but there is also a series of limitations indirectly discriminating women, which makes men the more common recipients of funds. In the coming months, NALED will present the overall findings, together with recommendations for improvement, to all interested stakeholders, line institutions and the general public, and after this we can start a dialogue to jointly find the best solutions for strengthening gender equality and economic empowerment of women in Serbia – said Stanka Pejanović, a member of NALED Managing Board and Executive Vice President of Gorenje Group.

The obstacles faced by women are mostly set forth in open call requirements. The criteria are mostly focusing on awarding funds to processing and exporting industries, traditionally involving fewer women. Additionally, the programs are most commonly focusing on companies, while women are more likely to register as entrepreneurs.

Preference is also given to companies with a larger number of employees, intensive production, i.e. plenty of machines and larger production facilities. Finally, the open calls often require applicants to own real estate property as means of security, also being an elimination factor for most women, since they are registered owners of only 24% of real estate in Serbia.