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Macedonian businesswomen on their way to bigger, better business

The Macedonia Small Business Expansion Project (SBEP), a program dedicated to multiplying the growth opportunities available to small businesses in Macedonia, launched the Women in Business Initiative (WBI) in 2013 to accelerate the development of women-owned small businesses in particular in the Polog region of Macedonia. SBEP is funded by USAID/Macedonia and the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and is managed by CARANA.

Qanije Selimi, owner of REA daycare, a small business in Tetovo that benefitted from SBEP's Women in Business Initiative.Qanije Selimi, owner of REA daycare, a small business in Tetovo that benefitted from SBEP's Women in Business Initiative.

WBI facilitated the access of REA, a daycare center for children in Tetovo owned by Qanije Selimi, to support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). SBEP, ALRD (SBEP’s local implementing partner), and EBRD evaluated REA’s needs and potential for growth, and finally approved in March 2015 the disbursement of 60% of the funds requested by the small business—a total of US$ 11,300. REA will also receive advice from a local consulting firm T&P Consulting to strengthen their cost management capacity and increase their income by developing new services and improving the existing. They will also work together to develop a marketing strategy to promote its services and attract new clients.

REA is only one of several small businesses that have benefited from this cooperation. Since its inception, SBEP’s WBI initiative has assisted 15 women-owned businesses. In the first quarter of 2015, SBEP identified six other businesses that could benefit from WBI. The chosen businesses include an events management agency, a translation agency, a bakery, and several tailors.

In celebration of WBI’s inaugural partnership with REA, Katharina Stocker, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy visited the daycare center to learn more about the challenges faced by Macedonia’s businesswomen and how they overcome them.

Published May 2015