Denmark: Immigrant women entrepreneurs

A big part of New Danish (ie, immigrant) women start their own company and with that strengthen society's entrepreneur culture and push for equality and integration, said the Danish prime minster when he met several hundred enterprising women in Århus.

Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that it should be recognized that immigrant women outdo their own husbands and the Danes in general in entrepreneurship despite the resistance they face. He opened a conference in Århus on entrepreneurship and independence, with over 100 immigrant women attending.

"When a woman with an immigrant background starts her own company, it has meaning for the whole of Danish society. First because we need people who are not afraid to take chances and put things in motion. Second because the integration in the labor market of Danes with immigrant background is necessary for maintaining cohesion in Denmark, and finally because these women bring us closer to full equality in Denmark - it is crucial in a community with fewer active workers and more elderly," he said.

Rasmussen had no doubt that the women play an important role when it comes to integration - whether they're independent or employed.

"I have heard that when somebody integrates a man, then they only integrate a man. When somebody integrates a women, they they integrate a whole family. Many of you are role models - You have dreams of your future," he said, while many in the hall nodded in agreement.

To the question what else can be done to encourage immigrant women to entrepreneurship, Rasmussen answered that there is already a special loan, which can go up to 500,000 kroner (~$90,000), and the state guarantees 75% of the amount. Besides entrepreneurs are offered extensive counseling and finally there exist several funds that are directed at immigrant women.

"But many are afraid of taking such a loan, since Islam is against interest," objects Hani Ali, who has Somali upbringing.

The answer was that people should take into account that these are Danish terms with interest on loans.

"What will you do so that also ethnic girls with veils can get a job?" asked Maria Avianfav, who has Iranian background and feels well integrated after 13 years in Denmark.

"As I said in my Constitution Day speech, people should choose themselves if they want to wear a veil. We will not make laws about it. But at the same time it will be possible for both public and private employers to make objective regulations for employee's clothing."

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Religion and politics must be separate

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