WEgate hosted its 2021 Summit on October 7 in a digital format. The event, whose tagline was “WE are the Next Generation”, was aptly focused on women entrepreneurs at the heart of Europe’s green growth and digital transformation.
This focus translated into an in-depth look into how female entrepreneurs can benefit from the green and digital transformation – leading policymakers, trade associations championing the importance of women entrepreneurship, senior academics with expertise in the sector and women who have led or leading thriving businesses trailblazing the way to a more sustainable future built on a digital foundation joined us.
The event was moderated by Helene Banner, Founder of “Let’s Just Be Imperfect, Ladies”, a mentoring program leading the discussion about how we need to fix what happens above the glass ceiling. She framed the many debates that came together in a day-long narrative of analysis, learning, empowerment, and celebration of female entrepreneurship.
The Summit’s first session, #WEinnovate was opened by Outi Slotboom, Director for Strategy and Economic Analysis in the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission. Her welcome speech set the scene through a broader picture of the strategic action taken by the European Commission to support women entrepreneurs.
The market’s perspective followed on through the speech of David Caro, President of the European Small Business Alliance. He highlighted the importance of women entrepreneurs in our economies as fundamental players that need all the recognition they deserve and full support in overcoming any obstacle they face.
We then delved deep into what WEgate has planned for its community in the near future – a guided preview given by the WEgate Project Manager Eva Merloni. She illustrated some of the new features we are working on and that our community will enjoy when they are launched, chief among which is the new Marketplace for goods and services.
It was then time for a proper discussion on the current position of women entrepreneurs in Europe, on what support they receive and what obstacles they face. This theme was the topic of the #WEdebate session: it saw the launch of the results of the WEbarometer2021, an annual pan-European survey taking stock of where women entrepreneurs stand and what they need.
Thomas Cooney, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Technological University Dublin, Helle Neergaard, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Head of Section at the Department of Management at the Aarhus University, and Alice Martin, Co-founder & COO of Dermanostic, discussed the results.
The key findings include the difficulty accessing fundings through institutional channels and a significant preference for finding support through women entrepreneurs’ business associations. These results are deeply connected with a different approach to work-life balance than what is usually expected and reveal the necessity to create a more inclusive European business culture, catering to the needs of and recognising the potential of different approaches to entrepreneurship.
The in-depth debate naturally brought the audience to the following session dedicated to the inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs who have thrived in the green and digital sectors: #WEinspire.
Listening to a panel composed of remarkable businesswomen like Ann Hiatt, Author and Founder of Hypergiant, Eva Diaz, CEO of Appogeo Digital, and Maria Kottari, Founder of The Energy Matrix, was a uniquely motivational opportunity for the many women entrepreneurs among the conference’s audience.