The number of women involved in entrepreneurship is growing year by year and this is a positive thing if we think that important steps are being taken to achieve equal opportunities and equal treatment between women and men worldwide, although the world’s economies have been hit by the pandemic crisis. In order to overcome these barriers, there are required education and digital literacy as a key process in the area of digital technologies of which we are part of. More and more states are looking for support solutions for their economies, and Romania makes no exception. An example in this sense is the WINGATE project – “Together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe”, a project funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, which  debuted in Hungary and has its second conference in Romania, enjoying the presence of Her Excellency, the Ambassador of Norway in Romania, Mrs. Siri Beate BARRY. The purpose of this project is to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in the project partner countries: Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Moldova and Norway.

“Even though it is not a member of the EU, Norway is cooperating and wants to help the EU to face current challenges and make the most of its potential. Through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation offered by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, we contribute to reducing economic disparities and strengthening cooperation. From 2015 until now, grants worth 2.8 billion euros have been offered, of which 502.5 million euros have been offered to Romania “, said the Norwegian Ambassador in Romania, praising the implementation of such a project at the level of several EU states members.

The project is a transnational one and involves exchanges of experience between the participating countries in order to develop a platform to encourage women to become actors in the economy.

Cristina CHIRIAC, President of National Association of Entrepreneurs ANAA (Romania) stated that “Entrepreneurship is an essential vector of economic growth and development: it creates new enterprises and jobs, opens new markets and stimulates new skills and abilities.”

Almost 40% of the associates of companies that are active today in Romania are women. Business women are increasingly visible in the rankings of success. Their contributions are highly valued in all fields, from education and health, to civic activities, culture, entertainment, sports or politics.

The President of ANAA (National Association of Entrepreneurs) spoke about the priorities of the European Union after the pandemic: “a stronger Europe that becomes green, digital and more resilient. This implies a Union in which there is no place for racism and discrimination, where the role and place of women in economic development is appreciated and encouraged. I believe that this can be achieved if all states promote gender equality and facilitate the entry of women into entrepreneurship. I want Romania, as a member state of the European Union, to be on the list of members that implement public policies to encourage women entrepreneurs, and to contribute as much as possible to economic growth and diversification of the areas of competence within innovative sectors.’’

For her part, Agnes PUSCAS, SKC Consulting’s lead project manager, states that: “Following the experience we are going through and due to the pandemic situation, we realized that it is very important to develop our resilience to shocks, a goal that we set out to do it within the WINGATE project. Other very important aspects are digital transformation, sustainability and inclusion. These are the long-term trends we need to work on for the future. “

As markets become more volatile and industries more and more innovative, business leaders need new growth strategies, focused on people, education and digitalization. The world in which we live has more and more virtual interactions with a major impact on the economies of the World: the impact of technology on human labor and the income distribution; adapting tax systems to the digital age; the role of technology in providing basic services for disadvantaged social strata and widespread access to continuing education, in order to create a workforce adapted to the digital age.

Nicoleta MUNTEANU, Vice President of National Confederation for Female Entrepreneurs CONAF (Romania), spoke about “Global studies that show that there is a discrepancy between the current skills of employees and the needs of employers generated by new technologies. Digital technologies, innovation and artificial intelligence are the new challenges for entrepreneurs, and companies need to adopt the digital technologies needed to reinvent their own business models in order to be competitive in these times of crisis ”. In this sense, she believes that there is a need to “create a fiscal framework that stimulates the development of the digital economy, the establishment of virtual headquarters, expanding the network of venture capital investment funds and flexibilizing the conditions of participation of startups in public projects that have as an object the development of useful applications on public platforms are some concrete measures to help build a business environment based on technological innovation and access to digital solutions ”.

Although statistics show that the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on the businesses owned by women around the world, 87% of them stated that they felt a strong negative impact. However, according to the same studies women have a degree of adaptability to change. much higher. Obviously, depending on the economic development of a state, they can adapt faster or slower, but they always manage to face the challenges.

Eszter SZABO president of the Women / Business / Angels Association – Hungary, economist and business professor at Budapest Business School, supports the importance of women entrepreneurs and business angels. “Western European countries have only 30 years of experience in the market economy, living until then in socialist countries with planned economies so we have to work hard to help those who want to become entrepreneurs or business angels. Also, it is extremely important that at the same table there are women entrepreneurs and women business angels to generate development and growth “, she declared during the WINGATE conference.

According to the latest published ranking, Norway is among the top countries in the world in terms of opportunities for women. “Norway has a woman-led government and a large number of women ministers, the next successor to the throne will be a woman and over 50% of private companies have women in middle management and an even larger number in state-owned companies, but only 16% of large companies listed on the stock exchange are run by women, which is a barrier that cannot be crossed too easily, but there is a rule that in the Boards of large companies there are at least 40% women”, says Marit H. SILSETH, Kvinner I Business project manager, from Norway. However, the evolutions are disproportionate if we analyze the figures from the countries participating in the project. While Norway leads in the ranking with a high standard of living for women and a high participation of women in business due to legislative measures and the impact of gender diversity on the economic performance of companies, the same cannot be said about the Republic of Moldova.

Sabina CRIGAN, Partener at Gateway&Partners, said: “Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 companies run by women are export-oriented. In Moldova the number is even lower, only 1 in 10 companies doing international business are run by women “.

In the Republic of Moldova, almost 70% of SMEs have reduced their income, there are companies that operate with less than 20-30% of the income they had in 2019, some do better but that depends a lot. “Unfortunately, this crisis has shown us that a large number of entrepreneurs do not have enough financial, digital, access to finance or budget strategy knowledges, so business communities that offer mentoring and support projects are very important”, says Liliana BUSUIOC, executive director of the Alliance of Small and Medium Enterprises of Moldova.

To increase the number of women entrepreneurs and their influence in the economy of each state requires cooperation, strong partnerships, exchange of experience, reinventing the economy by adapting to current trends, interconnection and transparency and last but not least transnational cooperation.This was one of the main conclusions of the WINGATE “Together for a Green, Competitive and Inclusive Europe” debate.

The event is part of the WINGATE project and aims to help women entrepreneurs and business angels in their growth and development.The project partners are: SKC-Consulting (Hungary) lead partner, Serbian Venture Network (Serbia), Women Business Angels (Hungary), Kvinner i Business (Norway) and the National Association of Entrepreneurs (Romania), which also covers the Republic of Moldova.

The Wingate project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.