Mentor spotlight: Joyce Oomen-Beeris, founder of Pimcy.

Mentor spotlight: Joyce Oomen-Beeris, founder of Pimcy.

Pimcy Innovation & Portfolio management in Tilburg helps organize innovation and embed innovation in services, products, or business models. The result is an acceleration of innovation, increased innovative capability, and motivated employees. We cover the entire innovation management domain: idea management, innovation portfolio management, and life cycle management.

What is your story, and what led you to join the entrepreneurial world?
I have a career in product management and product development. After I did my master’s in Implementation & Change management, I concluded that I could not apply that knowledge in my current job. I always had a dream of starting my own business, and 5 years ago, I did.

What have you learned in your entrepreneurial career?
For the past 5 years, I have learned more than in the previous 18 years working for various companies. This is because you constantly encounter new challenges and see new things that you want to learn to provide customers with the best possible services.
I also have learned that what sometimes looks like a great idea can turn out to be something that does not work or does not make you happy. I have learned to say goodbye to things or even persons that are ‘energy drainers.’ 

What is one thing you still really want to do in your entrepreneurial career?
I want to expand further the innovation software consultation that we already offer. I think we really are distinguishing in that domain and have a great added value for the companies that hire us.

Looking back, what is one thing you would do differently in your career?
I stepped into a software opportunity as a side business. I still would have done it because I learned so much, only I would have stopped the initiative earlier on.

What would you advise women to start their journeys in the entrepreneurial space?
Women tend to do things only when they are 100% sure. My advice would be to trust your gut feeling more: if you think you can do it, you probably can. Don’t make yourself too small and humble when you are selling yourself. Women should learn to demonstrate more self-confidence.

What is the reason you joined FEMpreneurhulp?
Due to the Corona crisis, many companies have to pivot to other business models to survive. I want to contribute to that survival.

What are common challenges women face in the startup world, and how can we tackle them, according to you?
I think it has to do with my previous advice: know your worth, demonstrate self-confidence, and don’t show if you feel a bit overwhelmed.

Anything else you would like to share?
I really like FEMpreneurhulp as women are helping other women. I have often seen that women think other women are less capable than men or should not try to stand out in my career. In this way, we are our own barriers in advancing in business.

Find Joyce on www.pimcy.nl and https://www.linkedin.com/in/innovation-accelerator/

Meet Joachim Goyvaerts: Director of Benelux and Ireland PayPal

Meet Joachim Goyvaerts: Director of Benelux and Ireland PayPal

Joachim Goyvaerts, the director of PayPal Benelux and Ireland, talks about the power of digital transformation, the benefits of building networks, and PayPal’s new partnership with FEM-START. 

What was your journey leading up to being the Director of Benelux and Ireland at PayPal?

I have always found myself at the intersection of customer-centricity and technology; I have a degree in marketing management, but analytics interested me. I started my business consulting career: I helped businesses flip a product from internal orientation to customer orientation. Unwittingly, I entered the area/field of payments, and as of today, I have been working in it for the past 15 years. I was the first person to be hired at PayPal Belgium six years ago and helped them establish themselves in this region. Throughout the years at PayPal, I have been in different roles: from developing strategies for partners to leading the Benelux and Ireland region. 

What were the greatest challenges you faced as a Director?

At PayPal, there is no lack of opportunities. The challenge lies in smartly using limited available resources by focusing on the most important things. PayPal now doubles down on cryptocurrencies as we see a more stable regulatory environment and customer relevance. More recently, at the onset of COVID-19, I had to rebuild the team’s culture and keep that culture alive throughout the global crisis. That has been a big challenge, but it also energizes me the most. Customer orientation is important, but that gets done through the team, of course. 

How did you maintain the culture through COVID-19 times?

I have great internal allies who help me organize things for the team. With COVID-19, we miss out on the informal interactions, so it is important to structure them and make them more intense. PayPal really cares about its employees. We constantly check in on them; ask them if they are in hardship, or continue to work, etcetera. People need to take the time they need to get the basics right first. Otherwise, there is no way to perform sustainably over time.  

Shifting gears now: over the past few years, we have witnessed a growing interest in businesses going digital, especially in the past year. How important do you think it is for businesses to adopt this new “trend”?

I don’t think we can think in terms of a “trend” anymore, it is important, but it is also a necessity. If you set up a business now, being digital helps you ensure continuity in all your processes. It is your lifeline today. The advantage of digital is that you can scale it. If you are starting a company, you need to think about scaling and think big. Having digital technology from the start facilitates faster scaling. 

So, it is a must! 

Yes, it is. Another advantage is that it makes things simpler, as well. It is essential to offer a straightforward solution to your customers and give them the possibility to contact you easily, digitally. If you think about customer service, for instance, phone calls or even e-mails are not so effective anymore, it is easier to have a chat available. Digitalization also helps to focus on sales, e-commerce, among other things. 

It does! FEM-START is an ED-Tech solution to close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs. We are grateful and excited about this partnership between FEM-START and PayPal. What is your vision for this alliance?

First, it is important to understand the nature and the identity of PayPal as a company. We give people access to their money through technology. We believe it is a way to achieve more equality and inclusion by making the management and movement of money more accessible, secure, and affordable. More people have access to economic opportunities. Another core value of PayPal is innovation, and we have an entrepreneurial nature, so we encourage people to start their business. 

Based on these core values, a collaboration with an initiative such as FEM-START seems natural! There are still many challenges for women to combine different roles. They often have more difficulties accessing funding, so we really need to watch out and ensure that digitalization does not increase inequality. We are also supporting women internally at PayPal. We have active programs to promote female leadership and diverse leadership. It is what we live and breathes as a company, so we have knowledge and networks to share. 

Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest in female entrepreneurship? What are the advantages for investors and the community as a whole?

If you are trying to solve a problem, you would ask someone: would you leave out 50% or more of the potential? Of course not! By promoting female entrepreneurship, we are also tapping into creativity, sustainable results, and creating a society with a healthy bandwidth of equality and inequality. If half of the people are not participating, it is too unequal. Fundamentally, we should aim to have a healthy ecosystem that offers sufficiently equal opportunities, and that is, in the end, what produces the best results. Female entrepreneurship clearly has a big gap, even in The Netherlands, where many women work part-time when they become mothers. 

Besides motherhood, what do you think contributes to this gap?

Networking plays a crucial role, having informal connections. It is key, and many people who have access to a strong network are not even aware of it. For example, many men from these business networks inadvertently exclude women. They seem to be unaware that this creates exclusion. Furthermore, with the lockdown, there is also a risk of missing out on opportunities because, in a way, people who do not have a strong network suffer more. This also goes for mental health. People who are alone are having a harder time. It might mean that some things need to be reset. Some networks do not exist anymore, which creates an opportunity for building new ones. Again, it is crucial to give women access to these newly formed networks, as well. 

How can we bring more men on board to include female entrepreneurs? 

I think the first step is awareness. If men become aware, they can make simple actions to change this, also in digital networks. Another action is to promote women and not see it as a threat, because it is not. If companies and stakeholders in society stand up and speak about these issues, we can address them. But it starts with what you can do as an individual because, in the end, it is the people and leaders within companies who are assigning budgets, assigning people, setting up a structure, focusing on diversity, and so on. As an individual, you can have a huge impact. It takes time, it takes precise focus, but once it takes off, it can become really big, which changes the network. As an individual node, you can influence the whole network. 

Generally, women face difficulty when looking for investors for their businesses. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs that want to raise funds?

I would say think big and bold; it is what investors are looking for. Compared to 10 years ago, there is a lot of capital available, and there are really many great ideas. The supply and demand are at a whole different level, so show that you can be that next big company, but you need to demonstrate how you will generate revenue. How will you get cash and make money out of your idea? I would suggest showing mastery in how to get paid. Many companies do not think this through, and thinking about this deeply builds trust and shows that you are a solid team. If you address this dimension of numbers and finance, you build extra trust in your leadership quality, and it helps get not only funds and investments but also helps your business. 

How do you think start-ups can be helped to go to the next level financially?

As we discussed, if you build your company and use a digital backbone, you are ready to scale. I see many companies struggling with the scaling, and the excellent startups have thought this through, and they have the flexibility to test a lot, especially in different locations. Also, I would say think about geographically scaling. I have seen too many companies starting in one market and planning to expand in the next 2-3 years. I think that by doing this, you inhibit yourself from learning. It is better to learn sooner by testing the different markets simultaneously. Accessing a different market challenges your own perspective. It is a different culture. 

The second thing is to define KPIs which in the future will generate cash and revenue. You do not need to be profitable from the start, but you need to know your key indicator that will lead to that profitable and healthy position. We see all social media platforms not making money at first but gaining users because they know that they will monetize on that in step two.

That is great advice. Thank you, Joachim.

You are welcome! I am really excited to see how FEM-START will create this energy and network of female entrepreneurs. That is why I have been advocating to support this! 

By Azaina Shaikh and Paola Hasbun

Meet Désirée van Boxtel co-founder of Karmijn Kapitaal in Amsterdam

Meet Désirée van Boxtel co-founder of Karmijn Kapitaal in Amsterdam

– by S.Cannegieter

Karmijn Kapitaal is an investment fund founded in 2010 by three women, whose admiration and perseverance in entrepreneurship lead them to invest in gender-neutral Dutch SMEs.

Building and growing companies are Désirée’s forte, and this is a peek into getting to know ⅓ of the growing forces behind Karmijn Kapitaal.

What was your journey leading up to being the founder of Karmijn Kapitaal?

After +15 years of private equity and entrepreneurship experience, I thought it was time for a new leaf. I  started my career at ABN AMRO, worked independently, became an entrepreneur, and then sold my (interior design) company successfully in 2007, and now I am  ⅓ of Karmijn Kapitaal since 2010. I met Cillian and Hadewych during our tenure in banking. I joined forces to do it differently, not the status quo differently but differently in all aspects of the business. From leadership skills, people, perspective, priorities to diversity, in who we are, personality, and what we bring to the table differently. We all have a shared goal and vision. We believed we could, so we did, and with the help of a mentor together., I am a true believer in having a mentor in your life. I admire FEMpreneurhulp, the initiative of FEM-START, and the reason we partnered with the mentoring program. I believe in having different mentors in your life. You evolve in thinking and hearing different perspectives and experiences as the phrase goes in Dutch Durf te vragen!

What is Karmijn Kapitaal’s core value for SMEs’ investment? Our industry is a very high risk, short term, high returns, value ganache, money-driven with sparingly gender diversity, and equality in the industry. Our two-way goals are to make the world more gender diverse and a sustainable one and make an excellent return for our investors at the same time. We want to invest private equity as it should be. We want to change and balance and bring about actual gender diversity change versus just saying it and leading by example. Investors trust us with millions of their funds to make a ROI for them, and we, in turn, critically look at SMEs that we can invest capital in to make them scale-up and grow faster but sustainable.

We make a difference in the way we invest capital. We look at the company’s person, the sustainability of their service and product, and how that will mitigate and aid sustainability and gender balance in the future and the world. 

How did you hear about FEM-START and FEMpreneurhulp? What was your first thought and impression? I saw a post from Marian on LinkedIn and sent her a message. Dare to ask, back to my motto. We at Karmijn Kapitaal believe in diversity. We believe our investors, who trust us with their money, do not want us to be activists. They want us to make sage investments for returns on investments. However, as women founders and entrepreneurs ourselves, we have a keen interest in making it easier for female entrepreneurs to get funding/investment for their (start-up/scale-up) company. Because we strongly believe in helping each other elevate professionally, and we women need help. Hence, with that notion, every potential investment in a female-founded company, we want to actively act as a catalyst if we can and are keen to help as it’s always in the back of our minds, albeit we are a gender-neutral firm. We are creating a more positive narrative versus the negative in the world. Therefore, these two initiatives’ existence and cause spoke to us in all these aspects.  

Do you believe there is the slow progress of women in private equity? YES, it is moving forward, quiet, and steady. Like in every industry, we have to keep moving forward and not go two steps back. But always be one step forward and not stagnate. 

What are the challenges you see women entrepreneurs encounter more compared to men?

The biggest pitfall is wanting to do everything by yourself. If you don’t have the skillset for something, ask for help, hire someone better at it, and where it comes easier. This way, you can focus on what you are good at instead of creating a prototype yourself. You have the idea, get someone to create the prototype. It is also partly due to the network, men tend to have a broader network than women, and your network makes it so much easier, honestly, just as with anything you do. Ask yourself the first and challenging question. ‘What do I want with my business? Do I want to grow and scale up my business or become an entrepreneur? When you know that answer, everything will come naturally, or it won’t. It’s a personal decision everyone has to make. Nobody is good at everything. Ask for help, and focus on what you are good at. 

How do (start-up/scale-up) entrepreneurs combat this current crisis of not being able to network face-to-face, attend events, and get face value? 

We have a lot ‘more’ time (minus the zoom online calls) than traveling, so see it as an opportunity. The majority of the world is operating from their home base, so this is also an opportunity to strategize and start sending emails to people you admire and would like to know better! A busy person would now be more approachable for a 15minute pick your brain call/virtual coffee than meeting in person. It involves fewer logistics, but it can also mean they are snowed in with emails, concise, explicit with focus, and your why and how.  

What are exciting businesses that Karmijn Kapitaal are open to explore and invest in? We believe that everything can be interesting. We have an unobstructed view of all industries and business concepts. Our added value is not in the entrepreneurial area of business. Our expertise lies in the blueprint of a start-up and existing company.

Female entrepreneurs tend to be more socially-conscious and gravitate towards solving real-world problems than their male counterparts. It is not appealing to investors as it can bring less profit. What has your experience as a founder of an investment fund been like? 

I am not sure if we would agree with the statement. We feel that we can’t generalize women and men. Everybody is different. We know, and research has often shown that good gender-balanced companies create more value, including profit. We focus on proving that point.

How can we attract more investors to tech companies seeking to create social impact and solve real-world problems?

Tech is becoming more and more mainstream. That does and will attract more mainstream investors too, including social impact-oriented ones. The sector could help itself by presenting itself less ‘technical.’

It has been suggested that men and highly patriarchal build the tech industry. Women “wedge” themselves into these spaces to fulfill the diversity quota.  How can we bring about a radical, systemic change? How can women “run tech” and not “work at tech patriarchy”? 

I am not very familiar with the tech sector. In general, though, I believe that everybody is ‘afraid’ of what one doesn’t know or understand. I think that part of the answer would require to train men to understand how unconscious bias works and how diversity could add value. Visionary male CEOs, investors, and the like need to stand up and are required to install programs for inclusion training in their companies.

Gender diversity is a core value of Karmijn Kapitaal. In what ways does bringing men on board with the issues faced by women help bring about change?

We see and know that most entrepreneurs see precisely the same, that the combination of diverse leadership styles (‘male’ and ‘female’ if you want) or skills pays off in companies. For example, the combination of people taking risks and other people who want to manage them, result-oriented people (sales, sales, sales!), and managers that are people-oriented, long term and short term, etc.

What inspires you most to continue to achieve what you want?

My admiration for people that can create to envision an idea and pull through. The sparkle in their eye, their eagerness about their passion, product, service, or start-up. Their entrepreneurial spirit. Every meeting with a potential startup or entrepreneur, I am enthralled by their motivation and dedication. It is very inspiring, and that fuels me in my core as a critical, creative thinker. 

Last takeaway for women (tech)preneurs, entrepreneurs, and the community?

Continue to speak up and take the lead, look for help, and dare to ask questions!

 

https://www.karmijnkapitaal.nl 

Meet Kimberly Ofori: Her journey, businesses, and why she is mentoring female entrepreneurs during COVID-19 

Meet Kimberly Ofori: Her journey, businesses, and why she is mentoring female entrepreneurs during COVID-19 

By Azaina Shaikh and Paola Hasbun

Kimberly Ofori is a wonder-woman who defies convention and goes after what she wants. Started as an insurance advisor at a tender age of 16, Kimberly is a consultant at ScaleUp Company, Business Mentor at Founder Institute, and now, a FEMpreneurHulp mentor who is helping female entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of COVID-19 using the lessons she’s learned along her extraordinary journey. We spoke with Kimberly to talk about her story, business endeavors, and FEMpreneurHulp.

What inspired you to volunteer as a mentor in FEMpreneurhulp? 

In my journey, I have seen that some of the unsuccessful endeavors happened because I did not have access to the right information, resources and people. I do not wish that upon anyone. I believe that if your business is going to fail it should be because there was no product market fit or the market was not ready. It should not happen because you did not know how to do something. My motivation to do this is the women who have found the sweet spot of having a good product and found a market vision, but are not able to come out of a situation because of a certain circumstance, maybe the pandemic or they were in trouble a long time ago. I find it immensely rewarding to help those women grow their business or keep their business, especially in times of crisis.

What are the main struggles you see in female entrepreneurs face during COVID’19? 

A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with deciding whether to pivot or not. There are several stages in entrepreneurship that will make you doubt whether to continue or not, but the pandemic has really exposed all the imperfections within your business that you should’ve fixed a long time ago. In this climate, a lot of entrepreneurs are debating whether to invest again in something new, or pivot in a different direction. I think this has to do with stepping out and being bold in your decisions. If you are an entrepreneur, you are intrinsically motivated by risk-taking. At times, these entrepreneurs need to hear that their idea is valid and they just need that external validation from a mentor. There is a lot of volatility in the market right now. Businesses are moving online. It is a conscious decision that you have to make- and it can be very scary.

You mention in your blog that women often struggle with positioning themselves, or tend to undervalue themselves. How do you suggest women can boost their confidence?

It is hard- I still struggle with it every day. It is something that is deeply rooted in our society, that women are expected to be humble and not voice our opinion- it is seen as being aggressive. It starts with yourself. Every time I feel like that I ask myself if I am going to get what I want the way I am approaching it, if the answer is no, then I have to do a mindset shift. I am going to do what is necessary to get there. Sometimes that means disagreeing with the rest of the team.

What do you do to keep balance and mental health in these times of crisis?

Every day I prioritize. I schedule every hour in my calendar, meticulously. I know what I am doing every hour and why I am doing it that way. I hardly deviate from my schedule, I have a very demanding private life as well, so I can not afford to “go with the flow”. Preparation and planning ahead helps me keep sane. Give yourself some room to breathe. As women, we think we must be present for everybody, every time; you can not pour from an empty cup. To rest and refuel is a must.

It is amazing all the wonderful things you have achieved in your career. Do you want to share something about yourself that not too many people know? 

Thank you very much! Naturally, I am an introvert. When people see me, they are surprised to find out that I am shy. That is because I really trained myself to get out of my shell, but before, I was struggling with a lot of things. I think a lot of people don’t see how much effort was put into getting where I am right now in my career.

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to my Surinamese mother and Ghanian father. When I was 16, my mother had lost her job during the crisis. I quit school and worked for an insurance Company because I felt it was my responsibility to help my family financially. I was the youngest insurance advisor at the firm: in the interview I convinced them to hire me in spite of my age, I had removed my age from the resume. It was the first bold step that I took. That experience opened my eyes to the numerous possibilities that come with stepping out of one’s comfort zone and simply asking for what you want.

People have that one defining moment in their lives, which shapes them into the person they are. What was that moment for you? 

Years ago, I gave up everything I had in the Netherlands to move to Dubai for a job as a business manager at a Global Company. On the first day, my manager informed me that they were not opening the Dubai branch anymore and handed me an envelope with one month’s salary and wished me good luck.

I made the decision to stay back and make it work. After a long six months of job hunting, it occurred to me that the reason why I am unable to find a  job is that as an introvert- it is hard for me to ask for help. Nobody knew I was struggling; I was keeping up appearances. That moment really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and start reaching out to people on different platforms, until I found a job at a prominent talent management company.

During my time at this company, I was fortunate to work with great companies like Shell and Emirates Airlines as a consultant on their HR planning and strategic mapping. That was probably one of the best experiences in my career, including the six months of searching, which really built and shaped the things I do now, in terms of perseverance and not giving up. In addition, working at high profile positions despite not meeting the job description, really helped me understand that what I am capable of is more important and the skills I have to offer are equally as valuable as the credentials stated in job descriptions.

You say that you are an entrepreneur at heart, having founded a number of brands and companies. What inspired you to venture into these businesses after working in the corporate world? 

After working in Dubai, I moved to Spain, and I could not get a job because I am not proficient in Spanish. Instead, I started three online platforms: one was a job recruitment portal that did not do so well, a fashion platform called Doll House,  and Fab Lane where I sold hair extensions. Both Fab Lane and Doll House grew into successful businesses. During that period, I was constantly teaching myself everything: how to set up and grow an online business, and building a community. After reaching a certain level of revenue, I sold them.

After a while I became very interested in learning about the business climate in Ghana. There were  many businesses and start-ups being set up, but there was a lack of the right platform to grow these businesses, and that is how Aprenuer came into being. Unable to sleep one night, I decided to teach myself how to code a little bit on CodeAcademy. Using that knowledge, I started building the Apreneur website, it was a cross between Linkedin and Facebook. I envisioned it to be a space for African founders to connect with each other. It would provide them with opportunities to learn from each other and collaborate. I remember when the website went live, it crashed because there were 6000 applications and that was too much traffic for the web host, which I had poorly built myself. That is how the journey began.

What is your motivation for starting a new project? 

I am still trying to figure it out myself! I feel like I have been through certain things in life that have pushed me to see what is out there, what is possible. I have seen my mother come out of certain struggles, which removed the limitation of things from my mind. I aspire to be as strong as her. My mother went back to school because she had us when she was a teenager and got married at 18. She got her bachelor’s degree at 48. That was such an inspiration for me. She went out there and chased her dreams, which is what every woman should do.

Thank you very much for this wonderful interview, Kimberly! 

Meet Sandra van der Pal, co-founder of FEM-START’s latest initiative FEMpreneurhulp, an online platform and mentoring program empowering female entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Meet Sandra van der Pal, co-founder of FEM-START’s latest initiative FEMpreneurhulp, an online platform and mentoring program empowering female entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic 

By Azaina Shaikh and Paola Hasbun

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about an array of challenges for businesses worldwide, disproportionately affecting women-led businesses. From working remotely to losing revenue, running a business during a pandemic has not been easy for women. To support them, FEM-START launched its latest initiative, FEMpreneurhulp, an online platform offering mentoring and community network to female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. We spoke with Sandra van de Pal, the co-founder of FEMpreneurhulp to discuss how this platform is helping women weather the unpredictable obstacles of COVID-19.

You went to Utrecht University and studied Public Policy and Administration. Between graduating and co-founding FEMpreneurhulp, you have been working in the entrepreneurial scene. Did you always picture yourself doing this?

No, I did not! As a child, I do not recall thinking: this is what I want to do. However, I was always driven by the idea of making the world a better place, and I often found myself organizing events for my friends and family, constantly trying to bring people together, connecting and helping them.

After high school, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a school in Ghana for three months. During my time there, I wondered: how much do these type of initiatives actually help? The school had teachers, but sometimes they did not feel like teaching and let the volunteers teach instead. I came to the understanding that some development projects are quite futile as they do not really focus on what people need, and the impact of the initiative is often not measured.

After this experience, I decided to study Public Administration and Organizational Science because I was distinctly interested in making policies that actually help people and achieve the impact desired. I focused on International Development and realized that I wanted to combine a business way of working with reaching development goals. That is why I leaned toward the start-up world. I really like the energy, and the lean start-up methodology of ‘build, measure and learn’ is my motto.

The city of Amsterdam conducted a survey in April 2020, which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on female entrepreneurship and women in tech. According to the survey, women face challenges while juggling both professional and personal demands. In your experience, what are the challenges female entrepreneurs face during the pandemic?

Maybe women in general do more things next to their work, often women have more household commitments like taking care of their parents or their children. But also, in general, men have more access to money and funding than women, which is also part of the bias. Men reach higher positions in big companies than women, they earn more, and almost all Dutch VCs are white males. Another problem is a lack of representation of women in start-ups; there are not a lot of female role model figures, for example. Now with the pandemic, many businesses are struggling to move their business online; to keep up the sales, and to manage teams working from home. I think it is really important to build a strong community of women to support each other.

Along with Marian Spier, you co-founded FEMpreneurhulp, an initiative by women for women providing support during this pandemic. How did the idea of FEMpreneurhulp come to you?

Initially, we worked together on FEM-START NL which is going to be a physical hub, where women-led startups can grow in the accelerator. However, due to COVID-19, the physical hub cannot happen yet.

When we were hit with the pandemic, Marian and I started to discuss the ways we could offer help to female entrepreneurs who were reaching out to Marian asking for advice regarding their business. Likewise, in my close circle, I saw my friends and family were struggling with their businesses. A majority of businesses have a hard time moving their business online; and the new circumstances can be very tough also mentally. FEMpreneurhulp was born from the very need to offer help by matching entrepreneurs in need with our network of successful women and experienced mentors.

We know that  FEMpreneurhulp is providing a mentoring service and a community in the form of a network. Could you comment on this?

In our mentoring service, female entrepreneurs can sign up online and get three free mentoring sessions to deal with certain business and mental related difficulties they might be facing due to COVID-19. Next to that, we want to build a community. We ask the entrepreneurs to share their story and their experience with other women. We want women to know that they are not alone and that they have a community to lean on. Moreover, in September 2020 we will host an in-person FEMpreneurhulp event. Of course, in accordance with the COVID-19 measures.

What are your plans for FEMpreneurhulp after COVID-19?

The plan is to continue to help women entrepreneurs who could benefit from this program. FEMpreneurhulp is focused on all female entrepreneurs, including those who have already built their businesses. We are also working hard to build FEM-START NL which is more focused on start-ups. The target groups are different. We intend on keeping the two next to each other as we want women to continue to benefit from the mentoring and to belong to a larger community of entrepreneurs.

Thank you very much for talking about FEMpreneurhulp!