Development Ministry offers subsidies for female entrepreneurs

The Development Ministry’s program for boosting competitiveness in the economy, part of the European Union-subsidized Third Community Support Framework (CSF III) massive investment plan for the 2001-2006 period, includes support for entrepreneurial schemes by women aged between 18 and 55. The Entrepreneurial Competitiveness Program aims to promote modern and viable firms in the sectors of manufacturing, commerce and services, with particular emphasis on regional development and local economies. It also provides supports to women wishing to tap into the potential of new technologies and innovations for the development and production of new products and services, and the creative use of the country’s traditional culture. Furthermore, it aims to promote specialized services in improving quality in production and environmental protection. Other activities eligible for investment subsidies include entertainment and recreation services in areas of special natural beauty, thematic tourism or tourism based on the Olympic Games of 2004 as a cultural, social and economic event. The program is addressed to women who have not engaged in any business activity since January 1, 2000. Applicants may participate in only one proposed scheme, in which they must hold a share of at least 75 percent. Other non-eligible persons may hold up to 25 percent of share capital; other companies are excluded from participation, except venture capital firms, which are allowed a share of no more than 25 percent. Priority will be given to proposals creating new jobs. The level of subsidy has been set at 50 percent of each proposal’s approved budget, with the entrepreneur providing a minimum of 20 percent through own capital and a maximum of 30 percent through bank loans. The maximum budget for proposals is set at 50 million drachmas in manufacturing and 30 million in commerce, tourism and services. The minimum budget for proposals in any sector is 10 million drachmas. Initial construction costs may not exceed 20 percent of the budget, the cost of equipment 70 percent, sales promotion expenses 20 percent and other expenses 10 percent. To be eligible, expenses must be incurred after the submission of the application and the setting-up of the firm. The proposal must be implemented within 12 months of signing the contract. This period may be extended by up to six months, provided that at least 50 percent of the investment has been used in the 12 months. Assessment will also be based on the applicant’s skills and qualifications and a personal interview. Deadline for applications is December 15, 2001. Dervis said he hopes that review will include bridging the financing gap for next year with multilateral aid or some other form of support.

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