What is the environment for female entrepreneurship like in the European Union, and what are the challenges and opportunities women find in today’s economy? Hosted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the conference ‘Access to Finance for Female Entrepreneurs: creating opportunity’ set out to answer those and other questions on the eve of Women’s Day.
Private sector examples showed how we currently invest in female entrepreneurs in and around the EU. They came from female fund managers and entrepreneurs, but also from leaders in the field of research and development of programmes that fast forward women entrepreneurs. Amongst the topics discussed were education and digital skills, the question of how to create a growth mind-set for female entrepreneurs and of how to set an enabling environment for them.
Global studies demonstrate that women entrepreneurs make significant contributions to economic growth and poverty reduction, not only in developing but also in high-income countries. Besides boosting employment, women’s entrepreneurship also supports the diversification of business, stimulating innovation and diversification in management, in production and marketing practices as well as in products and services. However, the financial crisis has increased inequalities in the EU. This is particularly true in the area of entrepreneurship.
“It is important to ensure access to finance for female entrepreneurs as the days that we were making good progress in Europe are gone,” said Marjut Santoni, Secretary General of the EIB. “According to the European Institute for Gender Equality we risk stagnation or even sliding back . But progress requires commitment, more funding and persistent efforts by all actors, of course also by us, the EIB Group. Through the power of our investments, notably in quality education and digital skills, we, as the EU Bank, have an important role in making lasting change towards a more equitable future for all. This is what we aim at with our gender strategy.”
Gender differences persist in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe. It is therefore all the more relevant that the European Commission asked the EIB to prepare a market overview of the funding landscape for women-led companies. With the help of this work we’ll be able to identify potential financing instruments and policy measures to overcome the current challenges. While the research is ongoing, the first findings were widely agreed by involved stakeholders.
Addie Pinkster, founder and CEO of Adelpha Group, said: “Women are not risk-averse, they are just not as risky. They tend to measure twice and cut once. We tend to find their financial models more robust, valuations more realistic, they are more resilient, more strategic, solicit and act on feedback better, execute incredibly highly, and over-index on intangibles that make a huge difference to the growth and success of a company including: UX, listening to customers, talent retention and development, corporate governance. In short, they often make much more compelling investments.”
More information on the event: https://www.eib.org/en/events/access-to-finance-for-female-entrepreneurs-creating-opportunity.htm
To know more about EIB investment in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment:
Adelpha video from leading UK (female) entrepreneurs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SibKrsATNSs