Strive Czechia: supporting 250,000 small businesses to succeed in the digital economy

Our programs

Bolstering the resilience and growth of Czech small businesses through digitalization, peer mentoring, and financial services.

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Why this program?

  • In the Czech Republic, there are more than 1.1 million MSEs, accounting for more than 99% of all businesses and 67% of employment.
  • Czech small businesses were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many forced into laying off staff or closure.
  • Czech small businesses also underperform compared to their EU counterparts. This is especially true of women-led MSEs.
  • Czech small businesses aren’t embracing digitalization at the speed necessary to stay competitive and lack belief around its importance and the benefit outweighing the costs. They also encounter knowledge barriers, such as lacking digital skills training, financial literacy, and business acumen.
  • Despite high levels of self-employment, the entrepreneurial support ecosystem is limited outside of government support in the Czech Republic (which is fragmented and complex).
  • Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Czechia has seen an influx of displaced Ukrainians, who need support establishing their short- and medium-term economic livelihoods.
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Program overview

MSEs in Czechia face many barriers. These include low rates of digitalization, lack of access to tailored finance, and insufficient access to skills-building, peer networks, and tools that improve productivity. These barriers are compounded by poor coordination across agencies, leading to fragmented public support and confusion for entrepreneurs.

In partnership with CARE, Strive Czechia addresses these barriers by focusing on three aspects in concert. First, it simplifies the path to digitalization for MSEs through the establishment of a one-stop shop that signposts all relevant resources for MSEs. Second, it increases access to finance and a range of critical support services, including peer mentorship and coaching for women-led business and displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Third, it strengthens the Czech entrepreneurial support system through the establishment of a Strive Czechia Learning Network, which will aid in the creation of partnerships and foster an environment of collaboration and information sharing. Regular updates will be conducted throughout the life of the program to ensure the true state of Czech small business is understood and measured.

The end goal is to contribute to the digitalization and development of more than 250,000 MSEs, of which at least 100,000 will be women-led or -owned. The program also aspires to support at least 10,000 MSEs led or owned by displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs.

About CARE International

CARE in the Czech Republic, part of the CARE International confederation, will serve as the project lead and primary partner to Strive Czechia. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. It places special focus on working alongside women and girls to achieve social justice by creating economic opportunities and increasing resilience because gender remains one of the most fundamental sources of inequality in the world today. CARE has been a leader in financial inclusion and women’s entrepreneurship for more than three decades.

About Association of small and medium enterprises

The Association provides targeted assistance to entrepreneurs who do not have access to professional advisory services. It can consult a business problem within 48 hours. Association’s representatives are not afraid to raise business issues in the government sphere. It operates an easy to navigate website and social media network that provide a wide range of up-to-date information. The Association has been around for 20 years and has built a strong membership base. It presents awards in various categories and provides media coverage for skilful companies. The Association is flexible to business needs of companies with specific focus on start-ups, family businesses, women entrepreneurs, artisans, caterers and 55+ businesses. The Association’s representatives bring up-to-date commentaries in the media. Their key long-term topics include digitalisation and support of small businesses based on practical experience. The Association works with university platforms and high schools. The Association has carried out 100’s of independent surveys in the SME segment, tracks new trends and brings inspiration to its members.

About Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic is the most important representative of the business sector in the Czech Republic. It represents over 16,000 tradesmen, small and medium-sized enterprises and strategically important large enterprises, as well as nearly 130 industry associations, unions, clusters and craft guilds. The Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic is not a state-established institution, it is a business self-government. It is empowered by a special law to promote the interests of entrepreneurs. It is a partner of the Czech government, ministries, parliament and municipalities in areas of economic policy. It promotes measures that contribute to the development of entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic and thus to the economic stability of the state. It provides services to entrepreneurs in 70 cities in the Czech Republic and operates assistance offices abroad. The backbone of its membership base is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, which it provides with advisory and consultancy services related to business activities, issues certified statements of selected state administration agencies, provides them with professional training of employees or support in entering foreign markets. It is, among other things, a so-called mandatory commenting point for business legislation. Members themselves propose changes to laws, regulations, decrees and other standards that regulate their business. The authorities are obliged to deal with these requests from businesses.

About Czechitas

Czechitas is a Czech non-profit organization whose goal is to educate, inspire and apply new talents in information technology and build a community interested in IT. By organizing various workshops and courses, the organization aims to increase gender diversity in the IT environment, breaking down stereotypes and barriers that often prevent women and girls from entering the world of information technology. Interested women and men learn the basics of web design, programming, testing and data analysis in affordable courses. An interest in technology and a willingness to keep learning will be key skills in the future labor market. Czechitas is there for those who want to get a job in IT, but also for those who are not IT savvy, who just want to broaden their horizons and have an overview of what is hidden under the IT acronym. It currently operates in more than 8 regions of the Czech Republic and offers also online courses. More at

About Opero Mentoring Program DoToho!

The platform is designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises revitalize their business, innovate and give them the tools to shift their business model and secure new growth. The project brings together leading domestic entrepreneurs, managers and other experts to empower SME entrepreneurs by transferring practical experience and knowledge. The individual connection between the entrepreneur (participant) and the mentor makes it possible to find solutions to specific problems and has a real impact on the operation of the business. The programme includes expert seminars and lectures on relevant topics and regular networking within the established community. These provide participants with new contacts and business opportunities. Hundreds of companies from all over the Czech Republic and from various industries have already successfully completed the programme.

About Aspen Institute Central Europe

Aspen Institute Central Europe (AICE) is an independent platform that mediates interdisciplinary and regional cooperation and supports young Central European leaders in their personal development. AICE serves as a politically and ideologically neutral platform for democratic discussions about global political, economic and social issues. AICE fosters values-based leadership with the belief that it is essential for a free, just, and equitable society. Our objective is to provide a platform for a critical discussion on topical political and social issues, to promote the functioning and development of democratic values and an open society and to support the involvement of talented young leaders. 

There is a clear need for increased support in digitalization targeting micro- and small enterprises as they are often disadvantaged by the lack of resources that larger companies can more easily obtain. This support could significantly improve productivity and efficiency for MSEs, that can in turn allow them to allocate capacities towards growing their business.

Eva Svobodová

Member of the Board and General Director, Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts of the Czech Republic

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Implementation partners
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