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On October 22, The European Academy of the Regions – L’Académie Européenne des Regions had its kick-off meeting, the first action of the project “Improvement of Women Entrepreneurship with the EU” on which the organisations will cooperate, as part of the roll-out action on promoting female entrepreneurship within the European Project “Supporting Civil Society Dialog between EU and Turkey”.

The meeting brought together more than fifty participants from private and public sector, media representatives, as well as CSOs and NGO representatives, to discuss the actions of the projects, the main challenges and potential solutions to improve the female entrepreneurship culture.

In the opening remarks, President of ERSIAD, Mr. Tevhit Șevket Tavşanoğlu emphasized that given ERSIAD’s aim on ensuring growth in our country, it is a great and important step forward to come together with the hard-working representatives of NGOs to find solutions and implement strategies that will improve the female entrepreneurship culture in Turkey, and particularly in regions in Turkey that are lagging in this regard.

The President of the European Academy of the Regions, Mr. Nelu Neacsu, addressed the vital importance of improving the female entrepreneurship culture for the society and economy, and emphasized on the commitment of the EU to support all the steps in this regard.

Mr. Neacsu underlined that the project has an integrated approach by involving all interested parties, at local, regional and national levels and addresses the women issue from all angles, legislation, investment, administration and business. Not least, the President of EAR-AER emphasized the importance of this project and collaboration in order to engage in an exchange of good practice and foster capacity building in the area of women entrepreneurs.

The Acting Director for Financial Cooperation and Project Implementation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bülent Özcan stressed that actions like this project could lead to improving significantly the living conditions of Turkish people and increase the availability of business opportunities.

The Mayor of Erzincan, Mr. Bekin Aksun, also noted that this project will be expected to foster capacity building in the Erzincan area, which has one of the lowest scores in Turkey in terms of women entrepreneurship.

Regarding the project implementation, Ms. Ismahan Simge Sari, Project Coordinator at ERSIAD Ankara underlined the most important aspects and objectives this project is expected to achieve, also exposing some of the challenges that will be tackled during the twelve month period.

This presentation was followed by Ms. Elena Prisacaru, Project Officer at The European Academy of the Regions, who delivered a corporate presentation of the EAR-AER, alongside data regarding the current situation in the European Union regarding the female entrepreneurial culture and main actions taken at EU level in this regard. The next on the speakers list was Ms. Rezarta Agalliu, Representative of EAR-AER in Vlore & Entrepreneur, who presented in detail the most important actions and programmes launched at European level to support women entrepreneurs and as such, counter the challenges they face when setting up a business. Finally, Ms. Alma Guma, Officer in Social Department Municipality of Fier, Albania & Entrepreneur, delivered a presentation that focused on the main challenges women face when becoming an entrepreneur and potential solutions to these issues.

The next action of this project will take place between 13 and 16 of November in Brussels, during which representatives of ERSIAD Ankara and CSOs representatives in Turkey working on developing women entrepreneurship in the region will come for a study visit in the capital of Europe to learn about EU’s steps, actions and policies to foster a women entrepreneurial culture.