As many investors are aware, supporting women in entrepreneurship present both opportunities and challenges. The WEGate summit in Brussels on 17 October provided an excellent opportunity for women entrepreneurs and investors to share ideas and insights on how to build more inclusive access to funds and understand what major challenges women face today.
In the afternoon, a panel discussion on the value of women investors provided new insights and a creative roadmap from some of the top female financiers in the fields of angel investing, venture capital, and banking. The panel, moderated by Ms. Jenny Tooth, discussed and thoroughly examined what can be done at the local, state, and European levels to increase funding for female entrepreneurs. Jenny herself underscored those things that she has been saying for a long time during the WEGate Access to Finance webinars, organized by BAE. Namely, that women pitch their projects differently, and that they have different values and emphases. Women, for example, are more motivated by the impact they can make with their venture than by financial gains. The advantages of encouraging female entrepreneurship are thus obvious.
Anna Amati, Partner of EUREKA, the first Italian Independent Alternative Investment Fund Manager for deep tech start-ups, shared her thoughts on why it is difficult for women scientists to obtain funding and suggested policies that should be supported. According to her, men still dominate fields related to technology, and it can be challenging to find good initiatives from female entrepreneurs. Men also still assess how well female entrepreneurs perform. The issue is also located here. Furthermore, we did not devote enough resources to entrepreneurship education and training, particularly for women. Finally, Anna emphasized the importance of having women on investor committees that decide whether or not to invest in startups. As she has seen, having one woman on such a panel can already make a significant difference.
Inez Murray, CEO Financial Alliance for Women, stated that similar challenges are there for women entrepreneurs who want to access bank financing – and many myths to be busted. She emphasized that the questions asked by bank professionals to women differ from those asked to men. Again, women's representation in the banking sector will be game changers for female entrepreneurs seeking bank financing. Additionally, we also still require ground-breaking and reliable research on the gender gap.
Claire Munck, CEO of BeAngels and ScaleFund, spoke about how her company changed to attract more female angels, such as promoting role models and learning programs. This method could help more women entrepreneurs while also ensuring that the money has a more direct impact.