On December 14, 2021, the interministerial decree dated September 30, 2021 was published in the Official Gazzetta of the Republic of Italy no. 296. The above decree governs the methods of intervention of the Fund to support women’s businesses (“Women’s Businesses Fund”) established by article 1, paragraph 97, of Law No. 178 dated December 30, 2020 (Budget Law for 2021).

Women’s Businesses Fund: magnitude and objectives

The Women’s Businesses Fund was established with funds equal to Euro 40 million, to which PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) resources of Euro 400 million will be added, in order to support the start-up and strengthening of female entrepreneurship and to promote the quantitative and qualitative contribution of women to the economic and social development of the country, also by supporting their skills and creativity for the start-up of new business activities and the implementation of innovative projects.

The measures are granted, as part of investment programs, to companies active in the manufacturing, handicraft and processing of agricultural products sectors, in the provision of services in any sector and in trade and tourism sectors.

In addition, with an allocation of Euro 6.2 million, the Fund supports actions and initiatives aimed at  promoting female entrepreneurship in schools and universities such as orientation activities and training and courses in the scientific disciplines of technology, engineering and mathematics, knowledge of professions of the digital economy and marketing actions aimed at spreading the female business culture.

The project constitutes a pivotal intervention of the Ministry of Economic Development in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan within the “Inclusion and Cohesion” mission.

The aim of the fund is to encourage the participation of women in business ventures, by supporting companies with female participation, a category that includes cooperatives and partnerships in which the number of women members represents at least 60 percent, companies whose share capital is not less than two thirds owned by women and whose administrative bodies are made up of at least two thirds by women, individual enterprises whose owner is a woman and self-employed women, with legal and/or operational headquarters located throughout Italy, whether already established or newly created.

Incentives and contributions

The incentives (grants and financing facilities) are the following:

  • incentives aimed at the creation and development of women’s businesses, for women’s businesses established less than twelve months before the date of submission of the application, for self-employed women with a VAT number opened less than twelve months before the date of submission of the application and individuals who intend to create a new women’s business;
  • incentives aimed at the development and consolidation of existing women’s businesses, for women’s businesses created at least twelve months before the date of submission of the application and self-employed women with a VAT number opened at least twelve months before the date of submission of the application.

The incentives referred to in point (i) take the form of contributions and are granted for a maximum amount of

  • 80% of the eligible expenses and in any case up to Euro 50,000.00, for investment programs that provide for eligible expenses not exceeding Euro 100,000.00;
  • 50% of the eligible expenses, for investment programs that provide for eligible expenses exceeding Euro 100,000.00 and up to Euro 250,000.00;

The incentives referred to in point (ii) may take the form of both contributions and financing facilities and are granted:

  • for women’s businesses established no more than 36 months before the date of submission of the application up to cover 80% of eligible expenses, in equal measure in the form of a aid (50%) and in the form of financing facility (50%);
  • for women’s businesses established more than 36 months before the date of submission of the application up to cover 80% of eligible expenses, in equal measure in the form of a aid (50%) and in the form of financing facility (50%) in relation to investment expenses, while the needs of working capital constituting eligible expenses are facilitated in the form of aid.

The eligible expenses referred to above are the following: expenses related to tangible and intangible fixed assets, cloud services for the core processes of the business, employees and working capital needs.

In addition to these facilities, technical and management assistance services are provided up to a maximum amount of Euro 5,000.00 in the form of vouchers for the purchase of specialist services from third parties.

The initiatives must be carried out within 24 months from the date of notification of the measures granted.

The terms and procedures for the submission of applications will be defined by the Ministry of Economic Development which will also provide the necessary specifications for the proper implementation of interventions.