Connecting women entrepreneurs to shape a brighter future for all

Why is women entrepreneurship important and how does it benefit not just women, but the entire world? That’s what we discuss in this new episode of the ActionWomen podcast series.

Victoria and Yasmine make the case that having more women found businesses can help:

  1. create jobs for women AND men
  2. provide a different perspective on economic growth
  3. stimulate economic growth worth more than the economies of China and the USA
  4. contribute to better workplaces by bringing different skills to the table
  5. devise products that cater to women’s needs, which is important for improving women’s lives

We also discuss the idea of a “women’s dream company” and the importance of networking to help women succeed in starting their own businesses:

Listen to the podcast above or read the transcript below:

Victoria: Welcome to the fourth episode of ActionWomen BestFriend Talk. A new year has begun, and this is the first episode this year.

Yasmine: Oh yes, have you made any New Year’s resolutions? 

Victoria: I have indeed – it’s to take ActionWomen to the next level, and to encourage other women to follow their dreams and make a change. Just imagine every if woman who has a decent business idea started her own company with staff. That would change the business world forever.

Yasmine: And not just the business world, but the real world. A McKinsey Global Institute study found that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025. That’s roughly equivalent to the size of the combined Chinese and US economies today – and all without adding further to the overpopulation of the world, simply by giving 50% of the population that’s already here a chance to contribute equally. Now, that surely is what’s called sustainable growth.

Victoria: So why is it that women have good ideas but don’t dare found something? That was one of the topics we discussed at our ActionWomen workshop in Munich last month. And the reasons varied, but apart from the obvious ones like lack of funding and knowhow to make the ideas come true, we uncovered some less obvious reasons. 

Yasmine: Yes, I remember at least 2 or 3 of our ActionWomen workshop participants saying that it’s harder for women to break through, because often we have family commitments and there’s little chance to lock yourself away in your garage for days on end to work on a prototype of your new invention, or to build the networks you need to succeed. 

Victoria: Yes, and in fact it was not so long ago, when we founded our initiative ActionWomen…We wanted to foster women entrepreneurship…

Yasmine: True, but what do we mean by women entrepreneurs? So for the purposes of this debate, let’s say Women entrepreneurs are women or a group of women who initiate, organise and operate a business enterprise. Okay, so why is it important to have women entrepreneurs? Let’s discuss… 

Victoria: The predominance of male-led enterprises creates an unfavourable environment for women who wish to work or occupy leadership positions. People subconsciously recruit others who are like them. So male leaders see young men and think: “Oh, he reminds me of myself when I was young. Let’s give him a hand, let’s give him a project he can lead on so he can stretch himself and show what he’s made of.”

Yasmine: So having women in leadership positions is important for recruiting more women, and the best way to get women into leadership positions is by founding your own business – then you can truly work towards your own vision, and create the working conditions that work for you and that allow you to thrive and enjoy your role. And then you are in a position to support other women to thrive, too. That’s one aspect of why it’s important to have women entrepreneurs. Another is that women are more likely to come up with ideas for products that work for women. For example, who invented the birth control pill

Victoria: It was Katharine McCormick, a millionaire philanthropist and biologist. She was the woman responsible for providing the funds for research that paved the way for the discovery of the birth control pill. Because women have gained a huge amount of freedom and control over their lives thanks to the pill. So it’s a product invented by women, for women. Because women know what women want and need. Who invented disposable diapers? You guessed it – a woman. And she had a tough time finding a manufacturer, because of course the men she spoke to didn’t think it was a necessary product. 

Yasmine: Yes, and who got the patent for the first electric fridge? A woman of course – Florence Parpart. The list goes on and is by no means limited to domestic products. Bottom line is that most inventors invent things that they find necessary, and women need to be represented there to make good things happen for women. And that was certainly part of our motivation in founding ActionWomen, wasn’t it, Victoria? 

Victoria: Indeed, Yasmine, having more women found businesses can create create more jobs for women, can help deliver better products and services for women, and can also help grow the economy in different ways, providing a different perspective on economic growth balanced by sustainability and consideration for future generations. 

Yasmine: I agree, and thirdly, how can we ever achieve equality between men and women if there are so few women founders? Successful business founders shape the working world and their businesses have a profound impact on society, so if we as women want to change society for the better, we need to be entrepreneurs in order to be in the driving seat, and not just a passenger in the vehicle called work. According to the World Economic Forum in 2019, for every dollar a man gets paid, a woman, on average, only gets paid 54 cents. So the best way to make sure you get the full dollar, get the same amount as a man doing the same job, well the best way to make sure you get paid fairly is to pay yourself – be your own boss! 

Victoria: Very true. Clearly there are economic advantages to being a business founder, but also societal ones – for example, women recognise different problems, and therefore develop different products to address those problems, but also, women bring different skillsets to the management of people and businesses, and those skills, for example the famous ‚soft skills‘ or ‚people skills‘, can create better workplaces not just for women, but everyone. And don’t just take my word for it, research by the Harvard Business Review found that women outscore men in most leadership skills. Women scored higher than men in key skills such as team-working, innovation and problem-solving.

Yasmine: Plus we know that women’s education and access to employment is a marker for developed countries. So giving women entrepreneurs a chance could lift entire developing countries and change the lives of their populations for the better. 

Victoria: Instead of governments looking for foreign direct investments and tax cuts to grow their economy, why don’t they focus more on policies to advance women’s economic participation? 

Yasmine: Indeed, and a smart government would invest in female-founded businesses: research showed female-founded and co-founded startups tend to perform better than all-male ones. Plus, governments should invest more in enabling women to work, which means ensuring that there’s good quality childcare available, but that’s a whole big topic we could talk about separately, and will probably at some point on a future podcast. But back to women entrepreneurs, is there any other reason why it’s so important to have women entrepreneurs? 

Victoria: Well yes, I think we need women entrepreneurs, to create a concept of what the female dream company might look like. What women would wish for if they could create their ideal business environment, such as inclusive childcare, sustainability as the underlying business concept, etc. 

Yasmine: You got me all fired up, Victoria – so what we as ActionWomen do to change the situation and help more women found businesses? 

Victoria: At our recent ActionWomen workshop, we heard that founders want connections. People with whom they can discuss ideas and challenges, and people who can help connect them to resources, to other people who can make stuff happen, people who ask questions, people who give feedback and so on, because it can be lonely being your own boss. 

Yasmine: So one of the outcomes of the workshop was to create women-focused networking opportunities. In my experience, women are often at a disadvantage when it comes to networking, and I think that’s the reason behind Chief, the invitation-only network for senior women executives, mainly in the US, and they have already raised $140M from various investors, so the type of investors who invest in start up firms clearly think there’s a big need for a women’s networking group. 

Victoria: To develop that idea and strengthen our network we want to speak with women all over the world with plenty of work experience as well as women with concrete ideas of what needs to be changed.

Yasmine: One way in which I believe we can begin helping is by creating more women-focused networking opportunities. Innovative ideas can be challenging to work on and realise due to a lack of technical knowledge and skills, confidence, and tools. However, with the right network of entrepreneurial people across various industries, anything is possible. And that’s what we want to offer at ActionWomen – a supportive network of women who want to realise their ambitions by founding their own businesses. 

Victoria: If you want to join the ActionWomen network, have an interest in founding your own business or simply want to explore the female dream company and how we can get there, join us – visit and fill in the contact form. We’d love to hear from you if you have founded or are thinking about founding a start up, and would be delighted to offer you the platform to profile your business and connect with like-minded women.


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