In an international research program Hungarian women were also asked about the recipe for successful entrepreneurship

26 May 2021 – The number of enterprises with only female proprietorship has increased in Hungary in the last 10 years, but they still represent only about 14% of the total domestic company portfolio. Spearheaded by the Hungarian SKC-Consulting Kft. the WINGATE international business stimulation program, implemented from a nearly HUF 660 million budget, was launched with the aim of supporting beginner and more experienced women entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer, training and networking opportunities. The WINGATE project covering four other European countries in addition to Hungary, as a first step examined in an international survey what women entrepreneurs really need to succeed.

The success of women entrepreneurs is a key issue for the performance of the entire global economy, as it is estimated that ensuring gender equality in business could contribute a surplus of about $12 thousand billion to the global GDP by 2025. There are currently more than 500 joint ventures in Hungary with an annual turnover of over HUF 1 billion, that have women owners and authorized signatories. Despite the fact that the number of these companies has almost doubled compared to the number a year earlier (300), the share of businesses with only female proprietorship in the category of enterprises with a turnover of over HUF 1 billion still represents only 6%.

The goal of the WINGATE project was to promote the start-up of new businesses led by women and the development of existing ones in Norway, Moldova, Serbia and Romania, besides Hungary. In addition to start-ups or more experienced entrepreneurs, the program also targets women who are currently employed or inactive and who are still considering starting their own business. Through the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Norwegian Regional Cooperation Fund, the business incentive project is being implemented from EUR 1,824,320 (approx. HUF 660 million), of which nearly 40% is spent in Hungary. WINGATE is dedicated to support women entrepreneurs with a wide range of educational materials, trainings, networking and community-building events that can be put into practice.

It is very difficult to take the first step – knowledge on business and relationships are also much needed

WINGATE used a questionnaire in the countries concerned to assess which skills and business knowledge women entrepreneurs needed the most. More than half of the nearly 1,500 respondents were Hungarian, about 90% had a tertiary education and were fluent in English, and there was a roughly equal proportion of respondents who were already entrepreneurs and those who were just planning to start a business. The majority of women surveyed are between the ages of 26 and 40, and more than 40% still work in business, sales, marketing or commerce, however, they are still lacking the specific knowledge to run a successful business. As the next step the program will consist of various trainings to be developed available free of charge. Those interested can expect to benefit from business and management content primarily, but they will also be able to apply for skills development trainings.

“The result of the survey revealed that women envisioning their future as entrepreneurs want to develop both social skills and specific professional knowledge. They all consider thinking out of the box, the right level of self-confidence and courage to be important regarding entrepreneurial success, and above all they value financial and management expertise. It also turned out that one of the biggest barriers to starting a business is considered to be the regulatory environment and the constantly changing market conditions. In addition to administrative issues, the first steps also create uncertainty: how to turn a good idea or product into a sound business plan, and how would it be attractive to an investor? On the other hand, almost 60% of the respondents considered it important to emphasize that they would need a much more effective networking to succeed; and based on the answers, personal competencies need to be developed the most, including communication, clear and compelling speech, conflict management and negotiation techniques. What the latter have in common is that these areas were typically less addressed at school – and still are today.” concludes PUSKÁS Ágnes WINGATE project manager.

Women angel investors are a huge untapped resource

As for some respondents starting a business is no longer a challenge, but business development is, they need a completely different type of knowledge to move on. The survey found that high-level project management skills, confident budgeting, developing an effective PR and marketing strategy, successfully engaging investors, and knowledge of more advanced business models (franchises, joint ventures) are the key issues for business expansion. Business angels also have an unavoidable role in business development: investors who in addition to their experience embrace new ideas from their own capital and provide market entrants the necessary help to reach business success through their business network. There are very few female angel investors in Hungary, consequently the WINGATE project intends to fill in this gap.

“It shall give a very serious boost to the region’s economic growth if women also acquire the skills needed to become an investor and become competitive in this area as well. A number of promising new businesses can be created this way that can achieve considerable success even when entering the international markets. From this point of view, it is indeed particularly positive news that in our survey almost a third of those interested in “angel career” were Hungarian, although more than 60% of them are not even entrepreneurs yet. According to the survey, the Hungarian ladies wish to become angel investors – our goal, however, is to make this wish come true” – concludes PUSKÁS Ágnes.


About the WINGATE project

The members of the consortium for the WINGATE project in Hungary that are SKC-Consulting Kft. and Women/Business/Angels Association won a tender from the EEA and the Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation in the amount of EUR 1,824,320. Other partners are the Serbian Venture Network (SEVEN), the Romanian National Association of Entrepreneurs (ANAA) and the Norwegian Kvinner i Business (KIB). Their goal is to create a green, competitive and accepting environment for entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Europe. The WINGATE project is designed for this purpose to support women entrepreneurs in the region. The website of the project is in English, but the surveys, events, study materials and trainings will also be available in Hungarian.