Supporting women-led small businesses in overcoming the impact of the war

SMEs represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. 

In emerging economies, formal SMEs can contribute up to 40% of national income GDP. This means that small and local businesses are at the very foundation of a country’s economic well-being. SMEs are also, by definition, community projects. Through their businesses, small business owners create jobs for their communities, often address pressing local challenges, and are also more likely to give back to the community as they grow. 

In crisis situations, SMEs are more vulnerable to immediate and significant losses than large corporations, which means that they need infrastructures in place that are ready to support them to maintain and recover their operations. 

At enpact, we’re dedicated to providing support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in times of crisis; so that they are able to focus on personal and professional recovery, maintain their jobs and continue to create impact. 

For months, we’ve been working on how to provide opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs who have been affected by the Russian war of aggression to stay resilient and keep going. 

With the start of 2023, we’re launching FEMEIE with the goal of supporting Moldovan and Ukrainian female entrepreneurs in Moldova who have been affected by the Russian war of aggression. The program is now open for applications until the 6th of February. 

The purpose behind the program 

The ‘Female Entrepreneurship in Moldova – Emergency Initiative for Economic Empowerment’ (FEM-EIE) program was created to provide direct support for Moldovan entrepreneurs and displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Moldova, with a specific focus on empowering women. To create a comprehensive, sustainable and empowering network, the program will provide a support center in Moldova, financial support, access to global network and resources, and entrepreneurship education and training.  

With the onset of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, Moldova received the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita than any other country. The number of displaced Ukrainians registered in Moldova corresponds to over 3% of Moldova’s population.  

While the most tragic impact of the war has been clearly on the lives of the people in Ukraine, the economy of the country and that of its neighboring country Moldova have suffered a great strain. This strain is felt disproportionately by small businesses in both countries, since they have lost clients, partners, and suppliers. Not to mention the wider effect; like price hikes, lack of imports and vital products to their operations, nationwide energy disruptions and more. 

Given that 98% of businesses in Moldova and Ukraine are SMEs, and that between 30% to half of these businesses are women-led, it’s clear to see the huge role of women entrepreneurs to the economic well-being of both countries. 

It is important that – beyond the humanitarian aid – immediate support is made available that allow women entrepreneurs in Ukraine and its neighboring country Moldova to maintain their operations and economic independence, and to be able to continue their work in a safe, stable environment. 

How does FEMEIE support women entrepreneurs? 

The program is designed to offer fast, flexible, accessible and inclusive support for women entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders, with the goal of empowering women entrepreneurs to maintain and secure jobs, gain financial independence, and relieve the immediate economic strain on their livelihoods and businesses. The program offers:

  • Financial support of 500 Euros/month to be used for assisting living expenses and costs incurred by the war
  • Access to budget for technical expertise for business development 
  • Access to workspace at the support center in Chișinău for the duration of the program
  • Training sessions on relevant topics for Leadership, crisis resilience, digital transformation, funding landscape, sustainability management, impact measurement, internationalization and EU market access
  • Access to mentoring and guidance through companies and industry experts in the EU market 
  • Monthly networking events within the local ecosystem in Moldova 
  • Regular sessions with local, regional and EU market partners

How to qualify for the FEMEIE program?

  • You are a woman founder or woman in leadership for a small or medium enterprise* currently based in Moldova  
  • Your business was legally registered in Moldova or Ukraine prior to December 2021  
  • Your business had a monthly turnover of at least 250 EUR per employee** prior to the onset of the Russian aggression (In January and February of 2022 or November and December of 2021)
  • Your business is majority-owned by Ukrainian or Moldovan nationals and/or Moldovan residents  
  • Your business does not operate in any sectors that directly or indirectly support weapon manufacturing, including transport of weapons and the entire supply chain of the arms industry and military technology 

*The EU defines SMEs as having up to 249 employees and an annual turnover in Euro of up to 50 million  
**Full-time equivalent. 

What are the steps to apply?

  1. Fill the application form. It takes around 20 minutes to complete the application if you prepared all your documents and read through the eligibility criteria beforehand. To know what you need to prepare, check out the ‘How does it Work’ section on the program page.
  2. Your application is reviewed by two assessors with both international expertise in entrepreneurship support and local business environment knowledge
  3. If your application is eligible, you will be invited to a 30 minute online chat to get to know more about you and your business
  4. We will get back to you with your results and next steps!

If we are unable to accommodate your business in the FEMEIE program, we will still follow up with you regarding sessions, events and other means of support opportunities that you can take part in!

The program is set to start in March 2023. You will receive a response from us regarding your application by the 24th of February, 2023.

How can you apply for the FEMEIE program? 

All information that you need about the program and the application process is available in English, Romanian, Ukrainian and Russian. 

Click here to learn more about the program or apply below directly. 

Application deadline 06 February 2023
Apply Now!

The program is implemented by enpact e.V. with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The aim of the program is to counteract the economic and social repercussions caused by the Russian war of aggression. 

Senior Communications Manager

Salma is the Communications Manager at enpact. She is a writer, podcaster and storyteller, with published articles on business, economics, entrepreneurship, lifestyle and mental health awareness. 

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