Bulevardul Octavian Goga nr. 4, Bloc M26
Scara 1, tronson A, parter, sec. 3,
Bucharest, Romania, 030982
Romania is the largest of the Balkan nations with a population of 19.5 million. Since ascending into the EU in 2007 Romania has been on a rapid pathway to catch up to other EU member countries. Romania has made significant progress over the last 15 years. Romania has had some of the highest levels of economic growth in the EU, averaging 3% since 2010. GDP grew 4.1 % in 2018 and 2019 growth estimates hold strong at 4.2%. Progress has also been made in reducing poverty (using the poverty line of US$5.50/day); poverty rates peaked in 2012 at 32% but have since fallen to 21% in 2018. Romania is still working through institutional transitions from being a former Communist country. There has been high political and legislative volatility over the past 20 years, limiting government’s ability to implement critical economic infrastructure. However, Romania has managed risks relatively well for investors and there is still confidence in the market. While external debt is expected to increase some in 2020, public and external debt have remained low by EU standards.
Entrepreneurship has also grown in recent years. The self-employment rate was 16.4%, higher than the EU average of 13.7%. There are 480,791 SMEs in Romania and they account for more than half of the value add in non-financial sectors in the economy, from 2013 – 2017 SME value add rose by 28%. SMEs also provide two thirds of employment outside of the finance sector. The main SME sectors in Romania are wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing. In recent years there have been more SMEs active in Romania’s information and communication sector, with SMEs in the sector generating 41.9% of value added and 22.3% of SME employment.
While there is interest in expanding the role of SMEs in the economy, Romania is still struggling with gender disparities. Women’s entrepreneurship rates are lower than men, about 38% of entrepreneurs in Romania are women. Majority of women entrepreneurs work in agriculture (68%). Women’s rates of entrepreneurship have struggled to rise due to several factors; women’s education attainment is much lower than men, and economic dependence on men. This forces women into businesses that require limited skill and education and lead to women entrepreneurs being concentrated in low-value add, labor intensive activities. CEED has been active in Romania for over decade providing programs that include support and capacity building for entrepreneurs, with programming that consistently target and uplift women entrepreneurs.