promoting Women-led Innovation and Enterprise, and Women Entrepreneurs in Europe
he Women2020 platform – a stakeholder dialogue on the contribution of women to achieving the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs – was formally launched in Brussels on 8 March 2013. The launch event report “Women2020 Bold Beginnings” and the second event report “Women2020: Smart Progress” can be found on the Women2020 website. The present report summarizes the discussion and conclusions of the third Women2020 event held on 15 May 2013 on the topic of Women in Enterprise for Sustainable Growth: Promoting Women-led Innovation and Enterprise, and Women Entrepreneurs in Europe.
Dr. Joanna Drake
Director of SME Competitiveness, European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry: n “In my mind, anything that has to be sustainable requires small but steady steps towards longevity. Something that has to be savoured.”
Google hosted the event as part of its first official Google for Entrepreneurs meetup in Belgium. It was attended by 6 invited speakers and over 50 participants as well as followed online by 125 via webstreamed channels and Twitter. The series of reports from each Women2020 dialogue taking place in 2013 will be released collectively in a final “Women2020 Action Plan” in December 2013.
n “Entrepreneurial mindsets need to be nurtured from age 5 already.”
n Entrepreneurship 2020 – Women at the heart of the economy
n “Europe has been built step by step and it takes time but there is no time to waste anymore !”
The topic was kick started by Dr. Joanna Drake, Director of SME Competitiveness, European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry, who based her intervention on the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/promoting-entrepreneurship/) which includes a section on the importance of female entrepreneurship.
n “37% of Europeans are inclined to THINK of entrepreneurship as a career and that is the lowest ever. Even China is hit with this but not as hard as Europe.”
Building on her long and distinguished career in the private and public sector, Dr. Drake described her main message for sustainable growth as “Women’s potential straight at the heart of the economy”. She stressed that, first, the need for more women in the economy is an economic issue rather than a gender issue and that, second, more men must be convinced that untapping this niche potential makes economic sense. Describing the European educational frameworks – which she was glad to say are not discriminating against women – she saw a clear need for more incentives, role models and support services for women so that they can “use their own potential and add value to what they have learned, to inspire and create”. Statistics show that 15 to 20% of young children who participated in an entrepreneurial exercise such as the creation of a mini-company in school or the setup of a charity are more inclined to start a business later in live. Nurturing this would bring Europe six times the entrepreneurs it has now and a currently untapped innovation potential. Imagine the competitive edge! Adapting the European educational frameworks would benefit all the groups described in the Action Plan - women, youngsters, immigrants, long-term unemployed and senior citizens - but since women represent the biggest group, she continued to focus on them. She stressed that female entrepreneurs are typically less attractive to bankers because they are inclined to take less risk. Therefore, they need to be trained to invest in other women-led businesses and use their own networks to become better organised. She proposed an online platform with ambassadors and mentors containing training modules and webinars as a possible mentoring platform for female entrepreneurs. The European regulatory frameworks should support companies’ growth and innovation by providing a nurturing environment that allows companies to be flexible on the one hand while being vigilant about their obligations on the
n “The crisis is a reality but we need to be fair with our economy and give it what it needs. Let us find more mindsets that are open to entrepreneurship to help it recover.” ____________________________
Ms. Madi Sharma
Rapporteur for Women in Business and Women on Boards, European Economic & Social Committee: n “Everything we hear about, the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the work of the European Commission… it’s not done on an equal basis. It is our job as men and women of Europe to change that !”
n “We cannot afford to not value our human capital. SMEs and particularly women-owned business value human capital.”
other hand. Referring to the late payments directive (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/single-market-goods/fighting-latepayments/), she wondered why it takes Europe 15 years to discuss why companies go bankrupt especially since it knows that 98% of those companies are fully legit. Instead, could European regulators not focus on creating new innovationnurturing regulations, she wondered.
n “I started in my kitchen at home and turned it into two factories in regeneration areas. There are millions and millions of women like me that can make a difference !”
She concluded by saying that while resilience in times of crisis is prudent, Europe must also grasp the opportunity it holds to reflect on the parts of its foundations that are shaky. One of the important shifts European institutions should make is to stop considering women’s contribution to the economy as a gender issue. Instead, they should see it as the economic issue that it is. Because, at the end of the day, jobs matter!
n “Europe does not collect the figures. If we did collect them we would have the evidence to show that womenowned business are being discriminated against.”
Ms. Angela Steen
Senior Policy Analyst, Google: n “Women use the internet as a platform not just to sell their product but also to meet new people and market it.” n “How different would Facebook or Apple look if it had been led by women? If Steve Jobs had been a woman or the people in the room had considered the female perspective, I doubt the iPad would have had that name !”
Ms. Karen Wilson
OECD Directorate for Science, Technology & Industry, Structural Policy Division: n “Gender has to stop being a side issue, a simple box that people or companies check to then say ‘Okay we did the gender thing, now let’s get on with business’. It has to be an integral part of business and I think we still have a long way to go before it is.” n “Education is important at an early age, whether they become entrepreneurs or just become more entrepreneurial.” n “We have to really get away
Ms. Cheryl Miller, Executive Director of Zen Digital Europe and Founder of Women2020, thanked Dr. Drake and stressed that female entrepreneurship as a potential cornerstone of the European economy is at the heart of the Women 2020 initiative. She promised participants that Women2020 – in keeping with previous Women2020 events – would launch a concrete initiative that day that would directly address one of Dr. Drake’s suggestions and give her the chance to link into it later on. Not wanting to give it all away just yet, she went on to introduce the impressive line-up of panellists for the remainder of the event.
n Adding Entrepreneurship - Rephrasing STEM Ms. Madi Sharma, rapporteur for Women in Business and Women on Boards, European Economic & Social Committee, defined entrepreneurship as ‘not being about a business startup but rather about having an idea and turning it into action to deliver sustainable growth’. She advocated rephrasing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to include Entrepreneurship. Speaking from first-hand experience, having set up factories in regeneration areas with staff members considered ‘unemployable’ by society, she confirmed that women tend to operate differently than men. Women tend to take sustainable, less risk-based, less ‘fast profit’-focussed decisions while men tend to take high risk, high profit-focussed decisions. While both types of operations are equally correct, she wondered why women-led initiatives do not get the financial backing they deserve.She then shared some impressive figures from the United States to support the economic argument previously made by Dr. Drake. In the US during the recession, male-owned businesses stopped growing during the financial crisis while women-owned businesses increased in numbers. They created 175 000 new jobs in the last six years, employ 7.8 million people and boasted a 1.3 trillion USD turnover. Passionate about the topic, she had turned to Europe for comparable answers only to find that, sadly, Europe does not collect similar data and therefore stands weak when wanting to make the economic argument, which is clearly imperative from the US statistics. In addition, Europe has yet to consider four pieces of policy that other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand already implemented successfully thereby spurring female entrepreneurship and by extension economic growth immediately. In the United States, the policies described in this opinion paper for the European Economic and Social Committee (http:// www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.soc-opinions.25254&force=1) were put in place in 1988 and doubled the number of female entrepreneurs across 10 years. Described in her own words, these 4 Acts demand: 1. The Women in Business Ministry to be placed within the Economic Ministry and not within the Gender Ministry; 2. A director who looks at female entrepreneurship as a cross-cutting policy across all policy areas from the European Commission; 3. The collection of data and statistics so as to prove that European money is disseminated gender-neutrally and into the right areas; 4. The enforcement of gender legislation. To help kick start a reaction from the European Commission, she announced ‘Act4Growth’ a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) - an invitation to the European Commission to propose legislation, backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 27 member states - which will be launched in June 2013.
from stereotypes about women entrepreneurs. We need better data to prove that women can run high growth firms and that being a female entrepreneur is not just about becoming self-employed.”
Once opened, the ECI will be available on http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/ongoing. Meanwhile, Act4growth can be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Act4growth?ref=stream) and Twitter (https:// twitter.com/ACT4Growth). Participant Ms Chantal de Meeus d’Argenteuil, Founder MLM, immediately echoed the importance of data collection pointing to her own experience as a part of a French association that had aimed to render visible the invisible work of women. They had set up a legal framework in France in 2005 and had passed the law itself in 2012 with the first data sets expected to be available shortly. Meanwhile the association had also started to work on making an EU Directive about equality between men and women viable.
n “Women need not to be afraid of Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not about going out and being a cowboy. It is about taking calculated risk, which we know women are good at.”
Reacting to Madi Sharma’s suggestion to change STEM into STEEM, Cheryl Miller pointed out that tapping into the creative potential of Europe would also benefit the STEM sector. Artists have a great way to reach young people especially girls through the practical application of STEM through art such as gaming or 3D printing. She used her own organisation DigiMuse (http://digitalmuse.org/) as an example. Adding the A from Art to STEM would allow the STEM sector to reach girls they would not have reached otherwise.
Ms. Imelda Vital
n Giving Entrepreneurs the tools they need…
Director, Amway International EU Affairs Office:
Host of the meeting, Ms. Angela Steen, Senior Policy Analyst, Google, wholeheartedly supported the idea to rename STEM into ESTEAM by adding Entrepreneurship and Arts. She also seconded previous statements made on the importance of tools to support business development. She introduced Google for Entrepreneurs (http://www.google.com/entrepreneurs/) - the platform set up two years ago to support entrepreneurship globally through Google’s platforms and tools including a brand new video hub.
n “For me, education is about coaching and lifelong learning much rather than standard recognised diplomas. Studying books doesn’t tell you what life is like.” n “Women, more than men, lack the basic confidence to try out new things, a lack which basically hampers economic development.”
Google realised it did not have the elements to quantify the economic impact of the Internet and had turned to the Boston Consulting Group for answers. The first report ‘The connected Kingdom’ (http://www.connectedkingdom.co.uk/the-report/) had astonishing results, particularly in the area of SME development where the intensive use of the Internet and online tools would grow a business twice as much. In addition, these businesses would employ twice as many people and double exports. When duplicating the report in other countries, more conclusions that are interesting arose. In the Netherlands, for example, there was a growing trend for young educated women to stop working and use their business and entrepreneurial skills to set up online companies. The Dutch example serves as a global example in that it highlights the untapped potential for women to start internet-based businesses. It also highlighted the reality that society is still not entirely equal whether online or offline.
n “This is not a gender issue! The more we continue to have any women discussion into the gender debate, the less effective it becomes.” n “When a child’s tower falls over, don’t say ‘You broke the tower!’. Instead, tell it to rebuild it and you will inspire the child with confidence!.”
Ms Steen therefore provided the following three recommendations to boost gender equal business development: 1. Access to tools such as the internet needs to be equal from the onset. The current access variations need addressing, in Europe and beyond, since women are held back due to a lack of access to the internet. 2. Guarantee the female perspective through education and recruitment policies. Google, like many other businesses is struggling to hire qualified women engineers. Educating children to choose careers in STEM or to be aware of the female perspective when doing business is key. 3. Foster better resources to set up a high tech start-up environment for women. 30 to 35% of SMEs are led by women but in the high tech start-ups, this is just a fraction! Women who have the ideas and inspiration should be encouraged to find the finances and the space to start their businesses as well as hire the people needed to build it.
Ms. Claire Munck
Director Business Development of Be Angels and Belgian Director of Go Beyond:
n … also for high growth
n “The challenge for any sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem is how to bring more business angels into the market. Business angels are not philanthropists; they look for return on investment by providing personal input.”
Picking up on the lack of ecosystem to cultivate female-led technology startups or entrepreneurs in general, Cheryl Miller introduced the next speaker, Ms. Karen Wilson, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology & Industry, Structural Policy Division. Within the OECD, Ms Wilson focuses on Entrepreneurship and Innovation as well as the OECD Gender Initiative. Agreeing with previous speakers, she too stressed that gender has to be an integral part of
n “Marvellous educational programmes targeting 7 to 12 year olds exist. It is, however, hard to find women entrepreneurs who want to share their story. It is our responsibility as women entrepreneurs to reach out to these initiatives and volunteer as women role models.” n “How does an angel investor decide? An angel investor largely focuses on the quality of the team and on the vision of the business. Because they invest very early, they focus less on the financial planning.” n “Women business angels are an untapped potential. After writing the European white paper, I joined a local business angels club in Belgium and started a ‘women business angels club’ raising awareness a year ago. We now have 20 female investors that invested in three businesses already.”
business and explained that the gender initiative aimed to examine existing barriers to gender equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship with the aim to improve policies and to promote gender equality in the economy in both OECD and non-OECD countries. She explained the three pillars of the initiative as follows: Education looked at attracting more young people to STEM with a focus on motivating girls to become interested in STEM and boys to not lose interest since research shows that male numbers are falling. Another important aspect is to provide training to faculty on entrepreneurship in schools and through vocational training. This in collaboration with the European Forum for Entrepreneurship Research (www.efer.eu). Employment looked beyond the typical aspect of career-life balance. More women have degrees in higher education than men but since they do not advance in the workforce as much as men do this could only be explained by non-stereotypical factors – steering away from the argument that ‘women drop out when they have babies’ – such as subtle biases and women-unfriendly processes. The report contains recommendations on how to tackle these issues and is available online. (http://www.oecd.org/els/family/50423364.pdf) For the third pillar, entrepreneurship, the OECD also struggled with data collection since data was spotty across OECD countries. Ms Wilson admitted that this chapter of the report ended focussing on stereotypical things such as self employment and social entrepreneurship and much less on finance or high growth entrepreneurs. She stressed that women can also be fantastic high growth entrepreneurs and should be shown role models to be given the ambition to become one. Once a woman does want to become a high growth entrepreneur, she needs the ecosystem to succeed and find funding.To accomplish this, female angel investors and venture capitalists are needed! Access to funding is not just the result of sending a business plan to a venture capitalist. Instead, having a direct connection through a network or an introduction from an established entrepreneur will open the right doors to the world of venture capital, which is currently still a men’s world. To conclude, she stressed that women and girls need to be less afraid of the financial side of entrepreneurship and aspire careers in finance, an aspect which was also addressed in the report’s first pillar. During the Q&A, participant Ms Angela Mills from the European Publishers Council asked for examples of initiatives that inspire girls in education. Ms. Madi Sharma named Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Europe (Link www.ja-ye.org) as a stable European model available across schools from the age of 5 onwards. Unfortunately, with the exception of Norway, the model is applied outside the official school curriculum. The model looks at development of creativity as well and uses real business people to help support the initiatives. Ms. Miller took the opportunity to encourage participants to sign the Women2020 Pledge on http://www.change.org/ petitions/women2020-pledge.The Pledge contains a call for action on educators to set targets, carry out and report on activities that • increase enrolment of girls and women in science and technology-related educational fields • increase digital skills for girls and women • increase leadership by women in education and academia in STEM and ICT fields, and • promote female leaders, role models and mentors in these fields.
n The ecosystem needs Confidence – A case study In the spirit of showcasing actions that work, Ms. Imelda Vital, Director, Amway International EU Affairs Office, described an approach that increased the number of female entrepreneurs working with Amway – A multi-level marketing company. Rather than focussing on high growth, which Ms Vital concurred is definitely needed, Amway focusses on the other end of the spectrum: A diverse range of people who want to try out something new to earn an extra income. This direct selling model selects people for their attitude of ‘learning to try’ rather than for fitting into boxes such as education and experience.
The Amway model tries to create an easy, stereotype-free environment where there is less risk for the entrepreneur – because the main company carries the risk – and where the products, training and tools are provided to start a small business, build confidence and move up or move on as the entrepreneur wants. This approach provides 3 million people with an extra income. Although the people turnover is as high as 40%, this has no negative impact on the company’s financial turnover. In her mind, the disconnect between the number of people who think being an entrepreneur is interesting and the actual number of people who become an entrepreneur can be explained by a general lack of confidence. Confidence is a vital ingredient to the entrepreneurial mindset. It needs boosting from an early age so that finance and educational skills find a good breeding ground later on in life.
n Mapping the money Ms. Claire Munck, Director Business Development of Be Angels and Belgian Director of Go Beyond, counterbalanced Ms Vital’s case study by focussing on access to finance for high growth entrepreneurs. She explained that research shows that while only 5% of European SMEs will need business angel investment or venture capital funds for their goods, these 5% will be responsible for 50% of quality employment in Europe ten years from now. That is why Europe needs to focus on high growth entrepreneurs. The European Commission has indeed set up mentorship programmes for entrepreneurs in general but now needs to focus more on access to finance by women. Business angels are early stage investors who invest their money into start-ups or innovative companies. They also coach their financial protégées and give them access to their network. Venture capitalists invest shareholders’ money and the financial contributions are higher. Sadly, research showed that only about 5% of the members of business angel groups in Europe are women and over 50% of the members have no female members at all. In addition, female business angel members tended not to invest because women’s approach to risk is different. In parallel, it turned out that women-led deals did not receive angel investment. Women have different expectations; they expect training and a thorough understanding of risk management and analysis; they want to see deals that are creative or focus on green technology or the service sector. It is therefore important to explain what the different types of entrepreneurship are – with role models – and explain the different types of investors to potential entrepreneurs. Explain what business angels do by breaking the gender stereotypes; by explaining where information can be found about mentoring, coaching and access to finance and by stressing that 95% of the entrepreneurs will not need venture capital. Investment readiness programmes would be a good step in the right direction. Entrepreneurs should understand the different financial resources available; the different questions a bank will ask versus an angel investment versus a venture capitalist. These programmes would also explain how to make a career in venture capital and describe the benefits of joining the business angel networks or support groups for entrepreneurs. Finally, they would focus on women entrepreneurs since they are struggling the most. Ms Munck concluded by stating that she hoped to increase the number of female business angels to 20% by 2020. Participant Ms. Barbara Kowatsch from the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research & Innovation, pointed out that the European Commission is indeed aware of the untapped potential women entrepreneurs represent. To raise awareness for female entrepreneurs, the European Commission launched a prize in 2011 to attract women innovators. She encouraged everyone to submit 2013 nominations before the deadline of 15 October 2013 and referred to the website on http://www.ec.europa.eu/women-innovators to do so.
n Time to be concrete Ms. Cheryl Miller, Executive Director of Zen Digital Europe and Founder of Women2020, concluded the event with the following two important take home messages:
n About us Women2020 is a broad-based stakeholder group that engages dialogue both online and off. Women2020 dialogues take the form of exclusive gatherings with inclusive online participation through live web streaming, the Women 2020 website, LinkedIn group, Twitter feed and Facebook page. For the full, chronological, programme of the event or an electronic copy of this report, please visit :
1. The role of women in sustainable growth in Europe is an economic question, not a gender issue. 2. Europe does not yet have enough proof of how powerful an engine women are for sustainable growth. In keeping with the first two Women2020 events, Ms Cheryl Miller treated participants to an exclusive announcement: the formal launch of inQube! inQube - www.inqube.eu - is a meta-entrepreneurial ‘entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’. A women-oriented grassroots platform for female entrepreneurs to create the ecosystem for experts, advisors and mentors that will help cultivate female entrepreneurship particularly in strategic sectors, across Europe. The inQube online platform, supported by Westartup.eu, boasts an exclusive online community of women entrepreneurs, mentors, business experts and investors who share experiences, ideas, and the know-how and resources necessary for delivering successful women-led, digital enterprises in Europe.
n Conclusions Throughout the presentations and consequent discussions, panellists and participants provided the following concrete recommendations for the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs .
Policymakers are asked to: 1. Address female entrepreneurship immediately as an economic issue rather than a gender issue. 2. Focus on data collection across Europe. Collecting data on (female) entrepreneurship, also in high growth sectors, will guide future action plans and allow for proper evaluation. 3. Consider rephrasing STEM to ESTEAM allowing for Entrepreneurship and the Arts to be added to the definition. And to 4. Foster an ecosystem to cultivate female-led technology startups and better resources for entrepreneurs in general. In addition, the European educational framework should be revised to include: 5. More incentives, role models and support services for women and the guarantee to include the female perspective when educating and recruiting. 6. An online platform ambassadors and mentors including training modules for female entrepreneurs. This online platform should tap into existing initiatives such as inQube (www.inqube.eu). 7. Training on the provisions of tools for entrepreneurs, making use of private sector initiatives such as Google for Entrepreneurs. 8. Training programmes starting from the age of 5 focusing on entrepreneurship and the inclusion of girls in STEM as part of the normal school curriculum, building on existing European initiatives and with the aim to inspire confidence. 9. Training on the different kinds of entrepreneurship and the various accesses to financial support, including business angel and venture capital investment plans. While the European regulatory framework should be revised to: 10. Provide a nurturing environment to companies’ growth and innovation.
All stakeholders should: - Sign the European Citizens Initiative Act4Growth when launched - Sign the Women2020 Pledge http://www.change.org/petitions/women2020-pledge - Nominate women innovators for http://www.ec.europa.eu/women-innovators by 15 October 2013
n Next steps for Women2020 n
Women2020 Action Plan: In collaboration with our media partners New Europe, a Women2020 Action Plan will be launched in beginning of 2014.
n Women2020 Board Quota Petition: Please sign our petition supporting 40% Women on Europe’s Boards of Directors: http://bit.ly/womenforty
Involvement: Please contact the organiser for more information about the Women2020 platform, or to sponsor or host a Women2020 event: [email protected]
Women2020 platform is made possible by the generous contribution of our partners and sponsors.
Thank you! The Women2020.org Team
n Upcoming events The Women2020 series of high-level gatherings continues throughout 2013, addressing topics related to women’s contribution to achieving the Europe 2020 vision. Please visit the Women2020 website for information and registration details. n COMPLETED - 8 March, (12:00-14:00 at DIGITALEUROPE, Brussels): Women for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth: Promoting the Contribution of Women to Achieving the Europe2020 Vision - (Event Report & Photos) n COMPLETED - 25 April (8:00-10:30 at DIGITALEUROPE, Brussels): Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) for Smart Growth: Promoting Women’s Education, Jobs and Leadership in STEM Sectors in Europe n COMPLETED -15 May (8:00-10:30 at Google, Brussels): Women in Enterprise for Sustainable Growth: Promoting Women-led Innovation and Enterprise, and Women Entrepreneurs in Europe n 14 November (8:00-10:30 at GSMA, Brussels): Women in Leadership for Inclusive Growth: Promoting Women in Public & Private Sector Leadership n December (date TBA - Scotland House, Brussels): Young Women for Europe 2020: Promoting the Contribution of Young Women to Achieving the Europe2020 Vision n January (date TBA - Google, Brussels): Release Event Women2020 Action Plan
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