In order to support women entrepreneurs, the European Commission created in 2016 an online, Europe-wide platform called WEgate. Since September 2016, this platform serves as a hub for connecting women entrepreneurs with local, national and European support organizations, thus facilitating their access to mentoring and business networks across Europe. Within this framework, the European Commission will fund projects in eligible countries, including Turkey, for the maximum amount of EUR 850,000 to manage and run the WEgate platform and encourage community building around women's entrepreneurship. The deadline for submission of proposals is 5 September 2019.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in reaching the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Whereas they are considered as crucial engines for growth and job creation, their competitiveness is affected by a limited exploitation of international opportunities and innovation prospects in the Single Market and beyond.
In this context, the Program for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME), aims to promote growth and to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises in the European Union and other member countries such as Turkey.
The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) is entrusted by the European Commission with the implementation of parts of the COSME program.
The European e-platform for women entrepreneurship WEgate is an initiative of the European Commission financed by the EU Program for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME). WEgate, created for women entrepreneurs, offers information, such as where to get help and access to finance or business networks, as well as training, learning opportunities and mentoring programs. To inspire women, the platform displays case studies and success stories, and relevant news and events are advertised to raise awareness.
The general objective of this call for proposals is to enhance women entrepreneurship in the target countries, including Turkey, by:
- Facilitating networking and sharing good practices between actors such as intermediary stakeholders, in order to improve the support effectively delivered to women entrepreneurs and to motivate more women to start their own business or to support the development of their business across Europe
- Entrusting stakeholders themselves with the management, update and promotion of the WEgate e-platform
The specific objectives are:
- To develop a "European women entrepreneurship community of practice" (“the Community”),which will complement and build on past, current and already planned initiatives
- To engage more stakeholders actively supporting women entrepreneurs - rather than women entrepreneurs themselves - with an emphasis on face-to-face exchanges and networking, in complement to online connections.
In line with the objectives mentioned above, the present call for proposals will support the following type of activities:
(a) Organization of meetings/events gathering public authorities, women entrepreneurs and all other relevant stakeholders interested to share experience;
(b) Organization of “Peer learning workshops” allowing stakeholders and women entrepreneurs active in EU Member States and COSME signatory countries to get a practical understanding of successful initiatives conducted in other countries (study visits).
(c) Communication activities, consisting of a comprehensive strategy and outreach activities targeting relevant stakeholders and women entrepreneurs, including through a social media launch campaign, with a minimum of one topical campaign per year, as well as promotion and awareness raising of EU initiatives and programs to encourage women entrepreneurs’ participation in these programs.
(d) Community building activities for women entrepreneurship at European level, including developing new contacts and linking up with Enterprise Europe Network member organizations and sector groups.
(e) Project management activities required for coordination with EASME, including a kick-off meeting in Brussels planned within 10 days from the signature of the grant agreement, followed by an inception report and project meetings, on the spot and/or by remote means of communication to monitor the progress made by the projects.
(f) The management and continuation of the WEgate e-platform to be used as the common online tool, in particular to help participants in the Community to get together and to disseminate information on relevant initiatives launched at EU and national levels. Keeping the blog and the forum alive and ensuring a reasonable response time to questions and comments.
The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects is estimated at EUR 850,000. The maximum grant per project will be EUR 850,000. EASME expects to fund one proposal. The grant is limited to a maximum reimbursement rate of 90% of eligible costs. Profit-making and non-for-profit legal entities as well as fully or partly public or private bodies are eligible applicants.