Government, EU and UNDP help developing women’s entrepreneurship in Montenegrin municipalities

Jul 26, 2013

Women's entrepreneurship in Montenegro still needs a boost; Photo: UNDP Montenegro

In Montenegro, despite a favorable legal framework for the development of entrepreneurship, there are still practical problems when it comes to women's entrepreneurship. Only 5% of women own property in their own names, making it difficult to access credit. This is certainly one of the reasons why only 9 % of women in Montenegro own a private company, compared to 21 % of men with the same status.

Analyses have shown that in Montenegro it is very important to find a solution to the problem of inadequate institutional mechanisms at the local level. Such mechanisms would provide continuous support to women's entrepreneurship in terms of developing new businesses and support to existing ones, exchange of information and technical support to relevant departments in municipalities and sectoral ministries.

In the framework of the UNDP Gender Programme IPA 2010, which is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and UNDP and financially supported by the EU Delegation to Montenegro, a component of economic empowerment of women is being conducted as a form of support to the Ministry in the implementation of the Action Plan for achieving gender equality. The first phase of this component is being implemented in four pilot municipalities of Kolašin, Mojkovac, Cetinje and Pljevlja.

Consultative meetings on current results of the economic empowerment of women have been recently held in the municipalities of Kolašin and Mojkovac.

According to latest data, 47 women the municipality of Kolašin showed interest in entrepreneurship; 40 entered the training program while 23 have completed all courses for which they were committed at the beginning, and 18 women made a detailed business plan. In the municipality of Mojkovac, out of 40 women who showed interest to engage in entrepreneurship - 32 entered the training program. All courses initially opted were completed by 21 women and 16 of them made a detailed business plan.

These women's interests range from rural tourism and agriculture (production of cheese, organic foods, drying herbs and fruits) to trade and a variety of other services - fashion/tailoring studio, hunting and fishing gear shop, making cakes, souvenirs, machine knitted garments, etc.

Representatives of the Ministry and UNDP agreed with the mayors and chief administrators of Kolašin and Mojkovac that it is extremely important that local authorities continue to provide full support to women who have so far been involved in the development of women's entrepreneurship program. Various aspects of cooperation and assistance to municipalities was discussed, such as creating a municipal guarantee fund for potential agricultural budget, „Montenegro Institutional Development and Agricultural Strengthening“ (MIDAS), EU funds etc; support in the process of branding cheese; establishing of close cooperation of competent municipal secretariats with the Ministry of Agriculture's advisory service; as well as cooperation with tourism boards and hotels in order to ensure a stable product placement as part of the overall tourism offer, providing special conditions for start -up companies engaged in manufacturing and service industries - particularly in terms of deferred payment fees, taxes and duties etc.

As a next step to make women who have already had some training and elaborated their business plans actually become entrepreneurs, the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, UNDP and municipalities will organize consultative meetings in the fall with financial institutions, banks, the Investment and development fund and others interested in funding business ideas.

In addition to visits to the municipalities in the north of the country, the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in the field of women's entrepreneurship has been organized between the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, UNDP and the Municipality of Pljevlja. In that way Pljevlja became the fourth municipality in a group of those who have joined the knowledge, experience and efforts in order to help make the existing women's economic potential become a significant development force in Montenegrin municipalities.

On the occasion of the signing of the memorandum, Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Dr Suad Numanović said that his ministry pays great attention to gender equality. “The fact that 51 percent of the population in Montenegro are women, he said, is a resource to be exploited. 18 good quality business plans have been submitted in Kolašin and 16 in Mojkovac. In September, these projects will be presented to those who can invest in them. We will connect investors with project owners and local governments. From the Government's angle we are also thinking about legal incentives, through the possible adoption of a law on social co-operatives,” Minister Numanović said. He pointed out that women’s entrepreneurship is a major generator of business that the banking system will recognize, while municipalities' in-kind contribution will be part of interest rates. “Together we have to look for product placement as a result of these high-quality projects, and we will categorize them in line with the branches of tourism, agriculture etc,” Minister Numanović explained.

“Through a system of networking and exchange of best practices we are ready to provide a strong support to the interested women, so that their entrepreneurial ideas could be realized easier and turned into a stable and sustainable business. Today we have initial results of similar agreements with the municipalities of Cetinje, Kolašin and Mojkovac that we signed late in 2012: out of more than 150 women who became interested in our program over 80% have completed some of the offered training for general entrepreneurial skills and specific tasks. We already have two women who have registered their business in the field of crafts and catering services, and by the end of the program cycle we expect other potential women entrepreneurs to follow their example. We are very pleased with the understanding and willingness of our partners from the municipalities to commit to this issue. This issue will continue to be the focus of our work, in order to ensure the durability and sustainability of the results even after the end of the program cycle,” said Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro.

Dr Miloje Pupović, Mayor of the Municipality Pljevlja said: “We hope that our municipality will show the same kind of commitment to the goals and results of the program, as they have so far done Cetinje, Mojkovac and Kolašin. Our municipality will continue to give professional maximum in contributing towards achieving the economic empowerment of women in Montenegro.”

“Strategy for the development of the municipality of Mojkovac being tourism and agriculture, we recognized women participants in this project as precious capital. The municipality will support any good idea, such as investments in rural tourism, and after the completion of this project a support service will be established in order to deal with administrative procedures, techniques of writing projects, as well as cooperation with local and international organizations that provide financial support,” said

Mayor of Mojkovac Mr. Dejan Medojević.Mayor of the Municipality Kolašin Mr. Darko Brajušković stressed that this project was a great encouragement in combatting unemployment, and their municipality will be the right partner and fulfil all obligations in order to get their 18 female fellow citizens to successfully start their business.

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