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Transforming European Women’s Entrepreneurship: The Education and Training for Success Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - women entrepreneurs (Transforming European Women’s Entrepreneurship: The Education and Training for Success Programme)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2017-02-28

Entrepreneurship in general has several benefits to society, such as fostering problem solving and creativity, helping to develop new markets/products, new jobs and promoting economic growth. Research on women entrepreneurship is even more important because female entrepreneurs are not just outnumbered by male entrepreneurs, their activities are also different in terms of sectors, business size and growth opportunities. So promoting an entrepreneurial culture for women is an issue that needs to be addressed extensively.
The under-representation of early stage women entrepreneurs in the business-driven economies of Europe is a complex phenomenon that is determined by various factors, including socio-cultural, economic, and educational ones. Training and education play a very important role in the development of Women Entrepreneurs, and the necessary tools must be improved.

The purpose of this project is to set up and strengthen international and inter-sector collaboration in the research field of entrepreneurial competence development. We want to increase the ratio of successful female entrepreneurs across Europe and their performance potential by using an evidence-based programme approach to make innovations in entrepreneurship education. The women entrepreneurs’ education and training programme is based on a study of more than 300 women entrepreneurs from Germany and Ireland. The programme has been developed to enhance the capacities of early stage women entrepreneurs of micro- and small enterprises from the service sectors in Germany and Ireland and increase the success of their overall entrepreneurial performance.

Overall Project Objectives
1. To identify and assess the fundamental supporting competencies of early stage women entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland which are needed for successful entrepreneurship (WP2). During this phase, our aim was to develop a model of these competencies of early-stage women entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland, including individual and environmental factors affecting entrepreneurial success.

2. To design and implement an educational and training programme that enables early stage women entrepreneurs to develop fundamental entrepreneurial competencies and increases their entrepreneurial success (WP3). During this phase and based on the model developed in Phase one, we designed an educational and training programme to increase the ratio of successful women entrepreneurs. As a result, a competency matrix was formed. The matrix was constructed as a tool in the learning platform, providing a possibility for participants to monitor their progress and define their learning goals. The programme was validated at the beginning of 2017 and will be implemented during the following summer.

3. To evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the educational and training programme (WP4). Following the implementation of the training programme, during this phase we will evaluate the training program’s impact and effectiveness.
WP1 is an ongoing management and coordination process that will continue throughout the project in order to ensure that the desired high quality outcomes will be maximally achieved. During WP2 we have developed a model of the fundamental competencies of early-stage women entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland that influence their entrepreneurial success. Based on a study of 306 women entrepreneurs (200 women entrepreneurs from Germany and 106 women entrepreneurs from Ireland), the analysis shows that as a higher order latent construct, entrepreneurial competencies have a major impact on entrepreneurial success. The entrepreneurial competencies of women entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland can be operationalized using a set of six first-order factors, including functional task related managerial skills, entrepreneurial characteristic adaptations of self-efficacy, orientations of competition, risk-taking and innovation, and the founder and innovator identity.

For WP3 we have designed an educational and training programme for early stage women entrepreneurs to develop their fundamental entrepreneurial competencies. The findings of the survey implemented in WP2 have been used to create a blended learning programme. The Education and Training Programme is based on Problem-Based Learning and a Learning-by-Doing Strategy, combined with elements of self-reflective, narrative and collaborative learning as well as edutainment. By selecting this didactic strategy, the focus is placed on the learner and individual entrepreneurial problems to be solved through collaborative learning, self-reflection and narration processes. The programme was validated and finalized at the beginning of 2017 and will be implemented during the following summer. WP4 is expected to begin in March 2017. WP5 is an ongoing process that will continue for the duration of the project, as it concerns dissemination, exploitation and outreach activities.
We believe that our project will increase our basic understanding of the entrepreneurial competencies of early stage women entrepreneurs in Europe and will be of value in improving their skills and competencies. This will in turn support their participation in the future development of European industries. The project will be a starting point for further improvements in learning and learning transfer models of successful early stage women entrepreneurs. It will thus aid in finding powerful learning solutions to increase the share of successful women entrepreneurs across Europe. The project results will open up paths for extending research on the entrepreneurial competencies of women to other countries in Europe and worldwide. Prior analysis of existing studies has shown that these competencies have not been sufficiently explored in European comparative studies. A transfer of knowledge to other research areas is possible and likely to increase their scientific and innovative potential.

The wide application of effective implementations will help policy-makers in their efforts to deal with socio-economic challenges, such as to create jobs and promote economic growth. We will also develop policy goals that can be included in the plans of each of the studied countries for enhancing female entrepreneurial success. The project is highly innovative due to its unique approach and potential impact on entrepreneurial development, and the research bears a potential for commercial applications.

The socio-economic influence of the project should reach far beyond that of a mere learning programme. The goal of the project is to aid and support women entrepreneurs in their efforts to gain an equitable share of the market. Addressing this issue can be useful in raising public awareness and unlocking entrepreneurial potential. Consequently, in the long-run Europe and the South American countries can profit from the project not only scientifically, but also from an economic perspective. The project’s transcontinental collaboration has helped to gather new perspectives and find new approaches to support female entrepreneurship. Finally, promoting the entrepreneurial identity of women entrepreneurs will hopefully inspire women to become entrepreneurs, which should further gender equality as a contribution to building a more just society.