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Financial incentives for women entrepreneurs

05/02/2016

Financial resources are among the most common barriers which women entrepreneurs face with in business. Commercial banks in Montenegro do not have support programs for women entrepreneurs. Most of them are opting for modest business plans and are generally less inclined to risk in relation to men. Women-entrepreneurs represent a big potential for economic development of Montenegro. This was emphasised at a meeting of the Women Entrepreneurship Board of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro (CEM) on February 5, 2016. 

The topics of the meeting were financial support for women entrepreneurship in Montenegro, presentation of the project SME Excellent Montenegro. On this occasion, the 2016 program for the current year was adopted. 

- Poor financing or unfavourable loans are great limitation of development of female entrepreneurship - says the chairman of the Board Ms. Slavica Strikovic

Financial incentives for women entrepreneurs and companies managed by women were presented by Mr. Mirko Blecic and Mr. Pavle Grgurovic, representatives of the Investment Development Fund (IDF), Ms. Nikolina Perovic Filipovic from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Ms. Gordana Vukcevic from the Employment Agency.

In cooperation with Directorate for Development of small and medium-sized enterprises and Employment Agency of Montenegro, the IDF, as Mr. Grgurovic says, provides financial and non-financial support for the purpose of improving the conditions for entrepreneurship development, in order to create jobs, encourage young people, women, students and persons with disability to devote their attention to business, stimulate their innovation and creativity as well as enhance further growth of SME. These loans are intended for investments in fixed capital and working capital without restrictions. The IDF may finance up to 70% of the total investment with the maximum loan amount of 50,000 with an interest rate of 2.5 percent, the repayment period to 12 years and a grace period of four years.

Through the support program to women in business, the IDF encourages establishment and business development of micro, small and medium enterprises in which they are the holders of business and entrepreneurship. The maximum amount of direct loans is 200,000 euros (for women entrepreneurs to 50,000.00 €), while the minimum amounts to 10,000 euros. The interest rate is 3.50 percent while other conditions are the same as in the previous line. For projects implemented in the municipalities in northern Montenegro, in Niksic, Ulcinj and Cetinje, interest rate is 3% per annum. If the credits are realized through banks, the interest rate is four percent per year. 

In collaboration with the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the UNDP, the IDF has a credit line to support women who are planning to register their own business. The individual loans amount to 10,000 euros, the interest rate is 3.5%, but if the bank guarantee is provided it is 3%. The repayment period is up to six years, with a grace period of one year.

In cooperation with the UNDP, there is a special credit line intended for investments in tangible assets, then the development of products or services, patents, licenses, concessions, copyrights, franchises, and working capital. The IDF can finance up to 50% of the total investment. The maximum amount of loan is 200,000 euros (50,000 for women entrepreneurs), while the minimum loan amounts to 10,000 euros. The interest rate is four percent per year (with a bank guarantee it is three per cent), the repayment period up to eight years and a grace period of two years. 

- Most loans were refused because the women entrepreneurs do not have their own resources to invest and due to unclear business vision, or uncertainties about the investment[d1]  - says Mr. Grgurovic. 

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to Ms. Nikolina Perovic Filipovic, is implementing a program "Women in business" to provide support to companies which are headed by a woman, including approaches to women entrepreneurship development, such as training, mentoring and coaching. Consulting services include: marketing, strategic planning, quality management systems, information systems, energy efficiency, environment protection, as well as engineering solutions.

Potential clients may be companies which employ up to 250 workers, the majority private and locally owned, and are not engaged in banking, financial services, military products, games of chance, tobacco products and alcohol. Such companies need to operate for at least two years, have the responsible management, and demonstrate the potential for growth and the need for business consulting, as well as to be able to co-finance 25% -75% of the total project cost.

- In 2015, we supported cca 40 companies, of which 10 were intended for women in business. This year we are planning a similar support, but we invite you to consider what you need and when. You can turn to us with a clear business idea or our experts can help you to shape it - says Ms. Perovic Filipovic, adding that the procedure for applying is simple and that only four documents are needed.

Since 1999 the Employment Agency has implemented a program to stimulate employment and entrepreneurship, and 10,000 loans worth 46 million euros has been granted, of which it granted over 17 million to women through 4,000 loans, says Ms. Gordana Vukcevic. 

- In 2015, we granted 37 loans of which 15 for women. The largest number is allocated to agriculture and the north of Montenegro, in accordance with the strategic plans of the country – says Ms. Vukcevic. 

Women entrepreneurs point out that they cannot get favourable funds of the IDF if the business activities are carried out in their own area, which is not owned by the company. Namely, the Fund is treating investment in such an area as personal consumption, which does not approve loans for. The representative of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights Ms. Biljana Pejovic, then the member of Parliament and president of the Committee for Gender Equality Ms. Nada Drobnjak, President of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Montenegro Ms. Edita Dautovic and Ms. Branka Vuksanovic from the Agency "Spin" also took part in the discussion.

The Vice President of the CEM Ms. Ljiljana Filipovic presented the SME Excellent Montenegro, a new service for Montenegrin companies which this association realizes in cooperation with the agency COFACE, specialized in the field of insurance claims. 

The activities of the Board for the current year were presented by its chairwoman Ms. Slavica Strikovic. The Board activities will be adapted to the needs and interests of women entrepreneurs. 

- We will work on promotion and development of women's entrepreneurship through education, international cooperation and the strengthening of media representation - says Ms. Strikovic. 

Advisor to the President of the CEM Ms. Tanja Radusinovic presented a competition for the 2015 CEM award in category of a successful business, improvement of management, social responsibility and innovation. She invited the businessmen to nominate candidates for these prestigious awards. These awards are traditionally presented on the Chamber Day April 21 by the President of Montenegro Mr. Filip Vujanovic.