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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - women entrepreneurs (Transforming European Women’s Entrepreneurship: The Education and Training for Success Programme)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28

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 competences of early stage women entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland for successful entrepreneurship;
2. to design and implement an educational and training programme that enables early stage women entrepreneurs to develop fundamental entrepreneurial competences and that increases the entrepreneurial success;
3. to evaluate the effectiveness and the impact of the educational and training programme.
WP1 has been an ongoing management and coordination process that continued 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 in2017 and implemented and evaluated in 2018 according to the tasks in WP4.

Within WP4 a model for the evaluation of the training and learning programme for early stage women entrepreneurs was developed based on the framework of Kirkpatrick. It included data collection before, during and after the implementation of the learning programme, by using questionnaires, data tracking and problem-centred interviews. WP5 was an ongoing process that was continuously followed up upon throughout the lifetime of the project, as it concerned, dissemination, exploitation and outreach activities.
The project will 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 results to other research areas is possible and likely to increase their scientific and innovative potential. We have also developed policy goals that can be included in the plans of each of the studied countries for enhancing female entrepreneurial success. Moreover, the project developed new research approaches in order to analyse learning of female entrepreneurs and e-learning for adult learners in general, as using for example log data and social network analysis. 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 project enabled a network of female entrepreneurs in Germany and Ireland, which has not existed in that way before. 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 inspire women to become entrepreneurs, which should further gender equality as a contribution to building a more just society. 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.