Ensuring that female entrepreneurs have the same opportunities as their male counterparts is not just a question of identifying and communicating business opportunities. It is also about addressing the structural challenges that continue to hold women back.

The Cyprus branch of the International Association for the Promotion of Women of Europe (AIPFE – Association Internationale pour la Promotion des Femmes d’Europe), which was launched in 2001, runs projects that aim to encourage gender diversity and balance. This objective is realised through a variety of activities including:
•    monthly networking events and workshops, organised for members operating in different segments of the economy and involving notable female entrepreneurs across the EU
•    the Women Fit 4 Business scholarship programme, which trains young unemployed graduates on how to start businesses
•    online campaigns to support female candidates in EU elections
•    monthly newsletters informing members with opportunities
•    collaborations to promote more women on company boards

Focus on sustainable results
The organisation is focused on delivering measurable outcomes and transferring good practices from other women-focused initiatives. This is achieved through running the organisation as if it was a business and ensuring that all project results are sustainable.

Every initiative is extensively communicated in order to inspire others and create a ‘buzz’. A dedicated taskforce is responsible for media relations, including arranging interviews and running online campaigns. AIPFE Cyprus also collaborates with all foreign embassies in the country to ensure that good practices are shared.

Overcoming challenges
AIPFE Cyprus aims to contribute to societal change through convincing more women to participate in the organisation and share their ideas. This work is critical given that Cyprus scores low in terms of female representation in parliament, on boards of directors and in investment firms. To date, there are only a handful of female CEOs in the country.
AIPFE has also recently worked with gender diversity expert teams to develop a Code of Conduct, designed to help businesses understand appropriate practices regarding non-discrimination, equal opportunities and diversity management.