Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Women’s Entrepreneurship and the LEED Programme


The OECD’s LEED Committee has been working for over 20 years on the close relationship between entrepreneurship and local development, and it has played a pioneering role in the issue of women’s entrepreneurship.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Reviews (2005-2007)

In June 2003, the LEED Directing Committee agreed to launch this study as part of the OECD efforts to integrate a gender perspective into the substantive work of the Organisation. The aim of this project is to examine the role of female entrepreneurship in the dynamics of local development and to give an overall review of the current situation of women entrepreneurs in a given territory. These studies will result in the elaboration of recommendations for policy makers to help them to implement tools adapted to the real needs of women entrepreneurs in the formulation of local development strategies and business creation policies.

The project involves directly policy makers at national, regional and local levels as well as a network of international experts. The first study took place in 2006 in Romania.

Cites, regions and countries interested in taking part in this study should contact Ms Antonella Noya, LEED Administrator, who has managed this activity since 2004.

The detailed objectives are to:

  1. Draw a comprehensive picture of the state of women’s entrepreneurship in the county/region/municipality in question (depending on the case study).
  2. Assess the policies, programmes, and projects that work in the country/region/municipality.
  3. Explore the economic, social, and cultural obstacles to the creation and expansion of women-created enterprises at the local level.
  4. Identify local and international good practices for dissemination to policymakers.
  5. Secure the involvement of a unique network of experts from different organisations and make this network available to the country in question.
  6. Propose specific recommendations and an action plan to improve local development-oriented policies and programmes for women entrepreneurs, to help national and local authorities to do a better job of incorporating women’s entrepreneurship into their territorial development strategies.
    The study is a combination of desk work and field visits by a team of international experts, led by an OECD analyst and with the participation of a local expert.  During the mission of the international expert in the selected region or city, various meetings will be held with all the relevant local stakeholders in order to understand the real situation and the main obstacles and opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Expected Outcomes

Outcomes are expected to include:

  • Increased awareness of the need to create the appropriate framework conditions, both at national and local levels, to foster and support women’s entrepreneurship (measures to facilitate women’s access to entrepreneurship, e.g., education and training, facilities to balance work and family life, access to finance, access to networks, etc.).
  • Increased awareness of the need to incorporate the women’s entrepreneurship dimension in the formation of all SMEs related policies.
  • Increased awareness of the contributions that women entrepreneurs can make to local economic and social development.
  • Activation of local networks of women entrepreneurs.

Expected Outputs

This activity would result in an initial report prepared by a local expert, that will serve as a basis for the work of the international experts and a final report with a clear accounting of the current local situation and a proposal for action.  A set of policy recommendations, aimed at national, regional or municipal levels will be produced in order to propose specific adjustments which could also benefit from international examples of best practices.  A handbook or guidebook on women’s entrepreneurship would incorporate all the necessary steps for an efficient implementation of national policies and programmes.  Local seminars would also be held in each host region or municipality, to present the final report in order to disseminate more widely the results of the report, to enlist the participation of other local development agents, to create new dynamics, and to raise awareness about the contribution of women entrepreneurs to local economic growth and social inclusion.  Finally, a comparative international conference could be held after the project was completed and at least three Local Reviews have been undertaken.

Other LEED activities on female entrepreneurship are:

  • 1990:  Enterprising Women, LEED Publication
  • 1994:  LEED input in the conference on “Women and the City” that was held in Paris. 
  • 1999: The Programme co-organised, along with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Central European Initiative (CEI), the Conference on “Women’s Entrepreneurship: East-West Co-operation” in Brijuni, Croatia . 
  • 1999-2003: The theme of women’s entrepreneurship was subsequently raised regularly at annual CEI forums and numerous conferences , which also enabled the constitution of an international network of experts and qualified institutions on the subject. 
  • 1997 and 2000: In 1997, the Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship held a first Conference on "Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs" followed by a second one in December 2000 to promote women’s entrepreneurship. The LEED Programme was actively involved in those events, which yielded a set of recommendations for policymakers. 
  • 2003: Conference “Maillage” organised by the “Dirigeantes” Association in co-operation with the OECD and UNESCO.  A conference organised by the OECD LEED Programme on "Women Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation" in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 9-10 December.
  • 2004: Work at the OECD is continuing in preparation for the Ministerial conference on SMEs was held in June 2004 in Istanbul, with the co-operation of LEED.
  • 2005: Launch of the reviews on women entrepreneurship.  Organisation of an OECD conference on "Building Awareness of Women's Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region".
  • 2006: First study visit of the series involving various regions in Romania.
  • 2007: Preparation of an OECD Report. Presentation of the analysis and results of the OECD study in Romania. 

To browse some of the presentations prepared by the LEED Programme Secretariat, please click on the links below.


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