EBAN Annual Congress 2023: Emphasizing Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship

The EBAN Annual Congress 2023 served as a global gathering for investors, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals, providing a platform for meaningful discussions and exchanges. Among the diverse range of topics explored, addressing the gender disparity within the entrepreneurial landscape was a central theme in the Congress as we featured sessions “The Path to a Sustainable Environment for Investors and Startups – Women on Board” and “Building Gender Inclusive Investor Networks,” but also it emerged in keynotes speeches such as Lars Rasmussen, Marcia Dawood, and Selma Prodanovic. Throughout this article, we will explore the key insights and discussions from these sessions, shedding light on the efforts to enhance representation and opportunities for women in entrepreneurship.

Lars Rasmussen, an experienced entrepreneur and investor,  highlighted the unpredictable nature of entrepreneurship, recounting both the highs and lows he encountered. Throughout his speech, Lars emphasized the importance of supporting and investing in entrepreneurs, particularly women-led startups. Notably, he highlighted the remarkable success of his investments in women-led companies, with over 90% of unrealized gains in his portfolio attributed to such ventures.

Marcia Dawood from the Angel Capital Association, revealed her exclusive focus on investing in women entrepreneurs. She stressed the urgent need to dispel the misconception that women require more resources than men to compete for the same opportunities. Marcia also emphasized the value of investing in sustainable businesses to attract women investors who prioritize companies with a deeper purpose.

Selma Prodanovic, Vice President at EBAN, drew attention to the higher return on investment associated with female founders and the advantages of gender diversity. She emphasized that diverse teams bring forth a wider range of mindsets and ideas, ultimately creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved. The panellists collectively recognized the progress made in recent years, with the percentage of women in the startup population increasing from 6-7% a decade ago to 27% in the previous year.

“Statistics prove that ongoing efforts to promote gender equality are yielding positive results”

She also mentioned that EBAN had taken proactive measures to address gender equality in entrepreneurship, exemplified by the creation of the Gender Manifesto. This initiative aims to collaborate with Business Angel Networks across Europe to achieve an average of 30% women network members by 2030.

In addition to advocating for gender equality, the panellists stressed the importance of supporting entrepreneurship and motherhood. They recognized the need to provide resources and flexibility that enable women to balance their personal and professional lives effectively. The significance of partnership based on merit rather than gender was highlighted, acknowledging the challenges women face in participating in business due to family responsibilities. The discussions emphasized the importance of support flowing in both directions.

The participants further underscored the need to facilitate women’s entry into entrepreneurship. They mentioned initiatives like the Investor Academy at AAIA, which has successfully tailored its programs to meet the specific needs of women and subsequently witnessed increased participation. They also emphasised the value of introducing entrepreneurship skills to girls in schools at an early stage.

“Empower young girls to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations and help shape a more inclusive culture”

The panellists also referenced research and statistics demonstrating the benefits of a diverse business angels community. They highlighted the outperformance of female-founded startups compared to their male counterparts and the increased profitability of teams with diverse backgrounds. Selma Prodanovic emphasized the risk awareness and higher returns typically associated with women’s involvement in entrepreneurship. The panellists identified unconscious biases, traditional networks, and the need for more visible female role models as key challenges that must be overcome.

In conclusion, the EBAN Annual Congress 2023 strongly emphasized gender equality in entrepreneurship. The event’s discussions and insights highlighted the need for increased representation, support, and opportunities for women in the early-stage sector. While progress has been made, it is clear that more work is required to create an inclusive environment where women can thrive and contribute to the entrepreneurial landscape on an equal footing with their male counterparts. By continuing to address gender disparities and promoting diversity, the Congress aimed to foster a more equitable and prosperous future for all entrepreneurs.