In 2018, Macedonia had a population of 2.1million people with a GDP of $12.7 billion, and a GDP per capita of $6,100. In the past two decades, Macedonia’s economic growth was the most stable in the Western Balkans, its GDP per capita more than doubled, and it went from a low income to an upper middle-income country status. Despite the stagnation period of 2017, Macedonia’s economy grew by 2.7% in 2018 and it is expected to gradually rise to 3.2% by 2020. The main drivers of growth include private consumption, fueled by increases in employment, wages, and lending to households– contributing 2.4 percentage points, followed by net exports – contributing 1.7 percentage points, and government spending, which contributed 0.8 percentage points. Employment is reported to have grown by 2.5% in 2018. However, while employment increased in 2018, more than half of their working age population remains unemployed or not looking for work.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, there were 70,139 SMEs that were registered in Macedonia in 2015, with 90.6% of them being micro-enterprises, 7.1% of them are small firms, 1.9% of them are medium firms, and 0.33% of them are large firms. SMEs contribute up to 54.1% of the GDP and they are said to employ up to 74.9% of the working population.
While imbalances still exist in the representation of women and youth in the entrepreneurial landscape, there are initiatives that are being taken to counter the existing gaps.
The Association of Women Organizations in Macedonia is championing awareness around the role of women in the economy and society in general. In addition, there has been an emergence of several ministries, agencies, and organizations that are promoting a National policy on entrepreneurship. Under this policy endeavor, the government seeks to formulate initiatives that encourage and cultivate an environment which allows the flourishing of entrepreneurship. CEED Macedonia is a part of this along with; inter alia, the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information, Society, and Administration, and the Agency for Promotion of Entrepreneurship of the Republic of Macedonia (APPRM). Additionally, several programs and institutions have been put in place to increase entrepreneurship capacities, including the Central European Initiative Know-how Exchange Program (CEI-KEP), Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP), the Macedonia Competitiveness Project, and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Credit Authority (SME DCA)1