Unioncamere is an Italian public body which represents, at institutional level, the Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry. Among the activities carried out, Unioncamere promotes services on female entrepreneurship. In 1999, numerous Committees on female entrepreneurship have been established within each Italian Chamber following a Memorandum of Understanding between Unioncamere and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. The members of the Committees are entrepreneurs selected by entrepreneurial associations and trade union organisations. This cooperation is well established, and in 2019 the Network of Committees is celebrating its 20th year of activities.
Supporting the creation and development of entrepreneurs
In addition to providing professional training, guidance on access to finance and enhancing the presence of businesses managed by women, Unioncamere manages – together with Infocamere, the ICT society of the Italian Chambers of Commerce – the Observatory on Female Entrepreneurship.
Since 2003, the Observatory has been analysing the data from the Chambers’ business registers by separating them in the following ways:
1. Female companies: statistics on companies managed by women
2. Female charges: statistics on the positions held by women and shares owned by women
Every 3 years, this data is used in the national report on women entrepreneurship and to inform Italian policymakers when drafting legislation. In 2019, the fourth edition of the report is due to be presented at the EUROCHAMBRES Economic Forum in Rome.
Another example of a successful project led by Unioncamere together with the Committees on Women Entrepreneurship is a roadshow called “Tour of Italy – Women Doing Business“, which stops at various places in Italy to discuss the obstacles and challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. Local events are organised to discuss topics, such as the essential tools for starting a business, access to finance, business risk, digital skills, decision-making processes and the gender gap. These events also prove useful for many women to gain the feasibility of their business idea.
As well as initiatives within Italy, the organisation collaborates with other countries such as the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce Forum which is a non-profit network uniting some of the Chambers of Commerce from Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, Greece and Albania.
Unioncamere has also strong links with the European Institutions and international organisations to assure that women entrepreneurs maintain a strong voice when it comes to business. It ensures the representation of the Italian Chambers’ System through its Association Unioncamere Europa which provides services and assistance to its members on EU policies and funding opportunities. Furthermore, Unioncamere is an active member of the EUROCHAMBRES Women Network (EWN), which aims to advocate for and give a stronger voice to women entrepreneurs in Europe by mapping good practices for female entrepreneurs and identifying the main obstacles that women face when starting a business.