Written by Paola Hasbun
Watching women come together with a collective intention is a powerful experience. I went to the FS not knowing what to expect, and not knowing that I would leave feeling extremely inspired. The room was full of excited women entrepreneurs ready to make a difference and share their ideas; ready to pitch. How do you summarize your idea, added value, and years of hard work in 3 minutes?
Barbara Rogoski has the answer to this question. She can teach you how to show investors and the jury what they are looking for: a visionary, confident speaker who believes in her idea and clearly describes how it can improve the world. And that’s exactly what we saw next! 9 powerful female founders who dared to make a difference and create scalable, sustainable companies with positive social impact. They want to make things better for everyone: create plastic-free skincare, extend clothing’s lifecycle, and recycle and re-use human hair. Their focus is on creating more inclusive workplaces and societies, reducing burn-out rates by measuring performance differently, and supporting each other through a mentoring platform. These female entrepreneurs want to eradicate allergies in children, democratize digital innovation, and bring online dating offline to increase connection in a world that is losing its essence behind screens and computers. These are women who dare. They share a passion to make a difference, to not accept the status quo, a passion for making societies better.
As I sat there, waiting for Joachim Goyvaerts -Director of Paypal- to announce the winner, I realized they’ve all won. They stood up against the odds, they crossed the many barriers that women face when starting a business, and they made it happen. Getting funding is one of the most crucial parts of setting up a business, and unfortunately, women have way less access to funding than their male counterparts. When women become entrepreneurs, they make their families, their communities, and entire societies flourish. Why are we then not giving more funding to women-founded companies? Fortunately, Marian Spier and Sandra van der Pal created FEM-START to close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs and launched an educational module for women on how to raise funding. Yes, because they also dared. They are making a difference.
The journey of entrepreneurship is not easy- that’s for sure. A 3-minute pitch does not reflect all the hard work behind the idea, or the effort put in setting up a start-up and getting your first customers -it certainly doesn’t. But one thing is for sure: you are not alone in the process. FEM-START is here to support you. There is a whole community of entrepreneurs and businesswomen who are willing to walk the journey with you, advise you, and support you to make it to the top. Because when women support each other and come together, the whole village flourishes. So what will you dare next?