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EBRD combats gender inequality in Croatian businesses

 April 18, 2019

The EBRD has always promoted gender equality throughout its regions, such as with its successful Women in Business programmes. Now, the EBRD has increased its efforts to combat gender inequality in Croatia by supporting a programme that rewards socially responsible companies who are breaking down barriers to female entrepreneurship.

Giving women financial and practical support

Up to five Croatian ventures are receiving financial support and access to expertise and networking opportunities thanks to the “Programme for the Economic Empowerment of Women”, known as DARING.

DARING was set up by the SOLIDARNA Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity together with IKEA and Mastercard and the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development. It aims to help women entrepreneurs with start-up ventures to successfully grow their businesses.

Recognising the EBRD's support for women empowerment

The EBRD attended an event organised by SOLIDARNA to pick programme participants. The winners receive up to HRK 75,000 each alongside as practical support. The initial programme is worth a total of HRK 250,000 (€33,000)

The programme particualrly strives to reward projects that contribute to economic empowerment in underdeveloped environments and women in marginalised groups. The EBRD was invited to join in recognition of the Bank’s support for gender equality and women empowerment and will provide advisory services.

Celebrating inclusive businesses in Croatia

The five candidates who reached the shortlist for the programme were:

  • Aurora Colapis – several women in the rural area of Karlovac collaborated to build a traditional boat which was used to transport cereals in the past. Now they offer tourist tours. Karlovac in central Croatia is located on four rivers and in recent years has attracted a growing number of visitors.
  • K-Zona developed and produced the card-game “Fierce Women” and the initial successful placement on the market showed there is potential for further market development and increase of sales.
  • Silvan Cosmetics produces natural, handcrafted soaps in special packaging inspired by the Croatian tradition, with seeds of wild flowers in it. The inspiration came from local tradition and natural resources.
  • Zagrebacki plesni ansambl (Zagreb Dance Ensemble) has a theatre facility in the Istrian village of Svetivincenat that hosts a dance and non-verbal theatre festival in the summer. The ensemble plans to upgrade its facility for commercial activities and continue to develop the festival programme, strengthening its international character.
  • Dandy is a social initiative born in Otočac in the Lika region, a rural and underdeveloped area with the smallest population and a largely untouched natural environment. The project is bringing together the local population around a book club that invites interesting guests and motivates people to join forces to support and promote local tradition and products.

Combating the challenge of gender inequality in business

Croatian women represent nearly half the country’s workforce, but only just over a fifth of companies are owned by women. The EBRD has met this challenge with its Women in Business programme in Croatia. Backed by the Taiwan Business-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund, the Croatian initiative has given 136 women-led companies advisory services and facilitates participation of 270 female entrepreneurs in training programmes. It collaborates with two partner banks who give dedicated credit lines to women-led businesses.

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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