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PFS, USAID, and the State Department Supported the Regional Conference “Invest for the Future: Women Driving Economic Growth” Zagreb, October 24-26, 2011

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On October 24-26, in Zagreb, Croatia, the PFS Program participated in a regional conference devoted to Women driving Economic Growth in South East Europe, which was organized by Zagreb School of Economic and Management under the high sponsorship of the U.S. State Department. The conference gathered 250 women from the SEE region who spoke about obstacles and challenges they are facing and shared their success stories and lessons learned. Various panel discussions addressed all stages of entrepreneurship, from the start up to the advanced development phase.

The latest WEF report compares equality between men and women in a given country on four key measurements: educational attainment, health and survivability, economic opportunity, and political empowerment. In those countries where the gap is closer to being closed, those countries experience greater productivity and economic competitiveness. Gender equality is key to a country’s progress because it yields higher growth outcomes and lower poverty. As the World Bank put it: gender equality is smart economics.

Access to finance repeatedly comes up as a major challenge to women entrepreneurs for business growth. The gender gap in access to finance is painfully acute as it affects what we might call “the missing middle” of the small and growing enterprise sector, which is heavily women-run and has the best growth and jobs creation potential. 

The vitality of markets depends to a large degree on successful businesswomen. Women’s work also provides a multiplier effect because women invest upwards of 90 percent of their income in their families and communities on health, education, and other investments for the betterment of society.

To read more about the conference and its goals, please read remarks made by U.S. State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Mrs. Melanne Verveer, click here.