Closing the gender investment gap for a more resilient, innovative, inclusive and balanced economy
A step towards unleashing the potential of women investors, entrepreneurs and innovators
In collaboration with: Collabwith, The Wominvest Observatory & The Knowledge4Innovation Forum
BRUSSELS, MARCH 2021
THE STARTING POINT: DEBATES IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. WHY DO WE EVEN START THIS CONVERSATION? We know that around 30% of entrepreneurs in Europe are women (Fackelmann, De Concini & Dustdar, 2020, p.12), but as of 2020 they received 2.1% of the financing available (Pitchbook, 2021), with the pandemic, this figure has even dropped (Teare, 2020). These numbers are unacceptable! Although things have changed in recent decades, the situation remains worrying; there are very few female founders, very few women in tech companies with significant capital, very few private investors and not enough women in decision-making positions. Due to this invisibility and the lack of discussions around this topic, we want to thank Shiva Dustdar for leading the European Investment Bank report on “Financing Women Entrepreneurs” (Fackelmann et al., 2020). Jara Pascual, CEO Collabwith started a series of debates in the European Parliament hosting the first debate on February 5th, on “How to empower women through investment to increase innovation by financing opportunities in Europe” during the 11th Innovation Summit organized by Knowledge4Innovation Forum in the European Parliament. Following the success of the debate known as one of the best debates in the European Parliament, the opportunity was given to prepare an entire day dedicated to women and investment with several preparatory debates and dedicating the EUTOP50 awards to women entrepreneurs during the 12th Innovation Summit on 9th December 2020 co-organized by Collabwith. In parallel, together we realized a need to create a spin-off of The Knowledge4Innovation Forum in the European Parliament called The Wominvest Observatory (TWOO) to dedicate all efforts required to drive change in the current situation. The Wominvest Observatory (TWOO) exists because it must. For too long now there has been a void in the space between the different organizations and initiatives designed to further the progress of women at the convergence of the startup and innovation ecosystems. The money has not been getting to female founders at critical moments of establishing and growing their companies, hence leaving these nascent ideas to wither. The Wominvest Observatory (TWOO) aims to work together to be a place where everyone will want to be, a place they will come to for the most reliable information and to lend their stories and a helping hand to others. The objective of the debates was to provide clear proposals and guidelines to establish ambitious objectives to create the change that our society needs. In Europe, we are at the moment where inappropriate budgets are currently available. It is time to discuss how the funds will be distributed, and how it will be distributed to women, to increase innovation in our society and industry. The debates are to be brought to the table by MEPs, policy makers, commission experts, industry and financial leaders, and innovation ecosystem leaders. The preparatory discussions in October and November were the prelude to the day dedicated to women and investment during the 12th European Innovation Summit held from 7th to 11th December 2020. At this time it was done virtually where it was and where they debated how to distribute the funds so that they reach VCs led by women, and innovative companies led by women. As a basis we take the EIB reports led by Shiva Dustdar, Director of the innovation division of the European Investment Bank “Funding women entrepreneurs: How to empower growth”. We have the next 5 years to incite change with the empowerment of women and of inclusivity in Europe with funding. We know that money is power. Hence, the ways to empower women is giving them access to capital, to funding. This is not exclusive to gender, it is about diversity in general: how are different ways of thinking, different backgrounds and different opinions being brought into the table? And what is our definition of Innovation? Innovation does not equal technology, we have to construct a broader definition for innovation, including social, process, disruption, ways of working, sustainability, etc. Although there is still much to be done, the Commission last year marked a huge change in the way we think about politics and especially gender equality. We need investors who are making change in our society. Women investors who are really supporting women without an opportunistic approach. Urgently, we need to balance what is an unbalanced situation. We have to create a paradigm shift, and we must make it all together.