Slovenia is one of the smallest OECD member countries with a population of 2.09 million people (2019), a GDP of 54 billion USD (2018), and a GDP per capita of US $40,656. Slovenia successfully transitioned to a high-income country after independence in 1991 and has continued to perform quite well since then. Slovenia’s economy grew an average of 3.2% between 2014 and 2019, which was well over the European Union (EU) average of 2.1%. Economic growth in the past couple years has mainly been driven by net exports and they are projected to continue driving growth through 2019.
The country’s unemployment rate has also remained relatively low, coming out at 4.2% in 2019, again below EU rates of 7%. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Slovenia is overall doing better than most high-income countries in terms of perceptions and opportunities around entrepreneurship. For example, in 2018, 42.2% of the people in Slovenia reported the existence of several promising business opportunities, which is an exceptionally positive result. Additionally, 50.1% of adults believe that they possess the capabilities and skills needed to successfully start and manage a business25.
However, despite the positive attitude and perceptions towards entrepreneurship, Slovenia’s Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activities (TEA), which measures the proportion of adults involved in starting or managing a business (less than 42 months old), is lower than the EU averages. In addition, gender and age continue to play a considerable role in the likelihood of people starting and managing a business. There are only 4.3 female entrepreneurs in Slovenia for every 10 male entrepreneurs. The highest TEA was observed in the age group of 25 to 34 years. Women and other underrepresented populations, still present untapped entrepreneurial potential.
CEED Slovenia has been actively providing training, consulting, mentoring, and ecosystem building for Slovenian entrepreneurs for 14 years. The focus has been on developing opportunities and know-how for youth and women entrepreneurs in particular. Partners in funding the projects include the US Department of State and the Slovenian government. Recent achievements include launching the Global Leaders Initiative to bring global best practices in entrepreneurship, and particularly technology-sector enterprises, to the Southeastern Europe region. In 2019, the GLI and CEED Slovenia hosted the first annual Founders Talk, a conference that brought speakers like Jerry Colonna, Jeff Hoffman, and more to Ljubljana. In 2019, the center had 212 active members and an additional 890 enterprises and entrepreneurs active in the broader community.