‘Mentors are a valuable resource to 50+ entrepreneurs as they can help educate, train and build up their self-confidence and guide them through the entire business creation process.’ – PRIME Cymru
‘Education and support mechanisms remain important drivers of entrepreneurship.’ – Prof Anna Pilkova, Comenius University
‘Mentors are a valuable resource to 50+ entrepreneurs as they that help educate, train and build up their self-confidence and guide them through the entire business creation process.’– PRIME Cymru
‘Education and support mechanisms remain important drivers of entrepreneurship.’– Prof Anna Pilkova, Comenius University

The issue of 50+ unemployment, while still not recognised nearly enough, is nevertheless gaining traction both at a European and Member-State level. Below a selection of some of the best practices at both levels. This list is however far from exhaustive and should you like us to share additional ones, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


  • The Silver Workers Project is an initiative funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme, and supported by the European Business Network, a member of the 50+ Entrepreneurship Platform. The initiative focuses on the target group of “over 50s”, so-called “silver workers”, especially low skilled and jobseekers, and aims at promoting training initiatives and at developing innovative training tools for their re-integration into the labour market through the empowerment of their basic, soft and transversal skills, and providing opportunities to turn their hobbies and other interests into business start-ups. The Silver Workers project spans a period of three years (September 2015 – August 2018). For more information please visit the website.

  • The 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations was an initiative of the European Union to raise awareness about the contributions that older people make to society, the challenges they face, and discuss how to best address them.  Launched in September 2011, it also focused on ‘senior’ employment and entrepreneurship.  A number of projects were carried out in the context of the European Year for Active Ageing resulting in higher awareness on the knowledge and skills of older people, their social-economic contribution and how this knowledge could be successfully transferred to younger generations (OECD, 2012).

  • The Grundtvig programme launched in 2000 with EU funds, aimed to provide adults with ways to improve their knowledge and skills to also boost their employability. It offers training and volunteering projects for the 50+ demographic group, focusing particularly on the marginalized groups. The projects were open to all stakeholders including corporates, NGOs, educational institutions and individuals etc.

  • The WES is a policy network with members from 31 European countries, including Iceland, Norway, and Turkey. The delegates represent national governments and institutions. They are responsible for promoting and supporting female entrepreneurship at national level. WES members provide advice, support, information, and contacts regarding existing support measures for female entrepreneurs. They also help identify good practices.

  • Launched in 2009, the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors is made up of around 270 entrepreneurs from 22 European countries, who act as role models by sharing their stories and promoting entrepreneurship as a career option for women of all ages. The ambassadors have supported the creation of more than 250 new women-led enterprises and created 22 networking and business support clubs for women.

  • ESF-AGE was a network of 16 European public authorities, funded by the European Commission to provide among others funding for older workers’ projects. Its objective was to identify, validate and disseminate high-level strategies to manage the ageing workforce in Europe effectively. More specifically, it aimed to improve employment opportunities, promote education and lifelong learning, enhance social inclusion and combat poverty. In October 2011, the European Commission proposed a new set of rules for the ESF for the period 2014-2020, and will allocate the budget of €84 billion to the fund (Eurostat, 2011; European Commission, 2012b).

  • EMIL seeks to promote European Intergenerational Learning (IL) and practices. One of its thematic groups focuses on the labour market and employment. It promotes active ageing in all aspects of life both at home and at work.


Some European governments are leading the way in terms of concrete action to promote entrepreneurship among older citizens. Below a selection of some best examples here across Europe. If there are any other initiatives that you would like us to share, we would love to hear from you.

    • The Austrian Federal Government Work Programme for 2013–2018, lists as one of the main objectives increasing the 50+ employment rates.
    • The Public Employment Service Austria “Arbeitsmarktservice” (AMS) together with the European Union sponsor the Entrepreneur 50+ initiative “Starting business in later life – entrepreneurs 50’. This program aims to promote the exchange of best practice, encourage intergenerational learning for the development of business plans, and raise awareness around the importance of the “migrant or ethnic economy” for the 50+.
    • The project “50+ Innovative Coaching” aims to transfer to Italy, Austria, Belgium, Romania and the United Kingdom the innovative “50+ coach Model” developed and successfully implemented by the German centre of studies BFW Nürnberg. The model consists of a training course addressed to SMEs coaches and HR managers who will integrate their skills with new competences aimed at supporting 50+ workers to preserve their employability.
    • The German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has launched the Perspective 50plus programme, which seeks to promote more and better jobs for older workers. This is to be achieved by raising awareness on this issue, changing the attitudes of employers and enterprises and reintegrating the 50+ group, evaluating impacts, and identifying and mainstreaming best practices and innovative tools. The program was scheduled to run until December 2015.
    • A joint initiative by the European Commission and the German government, ‘Biiugi’, an online platform links together experienced, less experienced and prospective older entrepreneurs.
    • The ‘Memoro’ project (https://www.entrepreneurship.de/wettbewerb2012/memoro/) in Germany, France, Spain, the UK and Italy collects stories from older entrepreneurs and makes short films to promote entrepreneurship among older people.
    • National Agency for Women Start-ups Activities and Services (bga) is a project by the Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology. The bga offers the political, business, academic and public sectors a platform for information and services related to women entrepreneurship in all areas and phases of company foundation, consolidation and succession.
    • The Irish government launched the ‘National 50+ Enterprise Day’ in October 2012, which aimed to help increase the number of businesses set up by the 50+ group.
    • The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy issued a key document entitled ‘Long term priorities/assumptions of senior policy in Poland 2014 – 2020’ and established Rada Społeczna 50+ (Social Council 50+) in 2013. Its goal is to develop recommendations on how to promote professional activity for the 50+. The planned actions of the programme include: promoting entrepreneurship, family businesses and social enterprises with special focus on the 50+; creating a complex support system including legislation changes, simplification of procedures, creating support institutions  and supporting social enterprises, especially those involving the 50+.

    • Inkubator dojrzałej przedsiębiorczości – Incubator of mature entrepreneurship- is a project co-financed by the European Social Fund and organised by the Cooperation Fund Foundation in association with the Foundation for the Promotion of Social Initiatives, POLPROM. The goal of the project is to increase entrepreneurship among people 45+ in Masovian Voivodeship by providing them with training and counselling with regards to starting new companies.

    • The UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills funded Start Up Loans – a scheme to provide advice, business loans and mentoring to startup businesses (although not age specific).

    • The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published on 13 June 2014 ‘Fuller Working Lives: a framework for action’, explains how working longer can benefit individuals, businesses, society and the economy. It sets out a number of new actions which will be taken to help people have fuller working lives.

    • On 14 July 2014, the Minister for Pensions announced that the government had appointed Dr Ros Altmann CBE as Business Champion for Older Workers. The role involves challenging outdated perceptions and making the case for older workers within the business community.

    • The DWP established in 2001 Age Positive, a government campaign to promote the benefits of employing older workers, The campaign worked directly with small/medium firms and large employers to spread best practice about managing an age diverse workforce and its business benefits.

    • A major initiative was launched in 2000 called The New Deal 50+ which was a voluntary scheme for those over 50 that were unemployed and had received government benefits for at least 6 months. The initiative has since been dropped. The goal was to improve their employment prospects by providing a personal advisor that provided advice on training, identified appropriate types of work and helped with job applications.