On 13 November, a brilliant theme week will start, focusing on women* and their strengths, needs and challenges. Together with other knowledge organisations in the Startup Port network, HAW Hamburg’s start-up service is committed to increasing the visibility and empowerment of women* in the start-up world. We spoke in advance with Dr Bianca Kauff and Laura Schoppe, the initiators of the Female Entrepreneurship Week (FEW) from HAW Hamburg’s Startup Service.
How did the idea for Female Entrepreneurship Week come about and what are the aims of the initiative?
Bianca: According to studies, only around 21 per cent of startup founders in Germany are women. Female-only teams only receive around 2 per cent of the venture capital awarded worldwide, while mixed teams receive around 7 per cent. Yet the social and economic potential of female founders is so valuable: teams with at least one woman in a leading position have been proven to perform better, whether in terms of return on investment, job creation or technology development, and women predominantly found companies with a strong purpose.
In this context, our projects WISU and the Startup Port at HAW Hamburg’s StartupService are involved, both of which are funded by the BMWK as part of the EXIST Potential Programme. Our main mission is to develop targeted measures to tackle inequalities. Through our own evaluations, scientific research and expert exchanges, we know what we can change as a start-up-promoting university: inspire, network and empower.
In a way, our motto week approach is a response to the demand for female role models, networking opportunities and formats specifically tailored to women. And it is proving successful: starting in 2020 with the “Female Entrepreneurship Day”, we have developed further and are now about to launch the second FEW. This time, we have even more support from committed players who want to join us in making the opportunities for promoting female founders visible this week.
Why do you think it is crucial to organise an event week like Female Entrepreneurship Week specifically for women and female founders?
Laura: We think the week creates a wonderful opportunity to draw attention to the start-up ecosystem and the role of female founders. This bundling of activities, female founders formats and a joint campaign character increases the visibility of female founders and their achievements. In this way, we also reach women who have never really thought about the possibility of founding a company or who feel deterred from doing so due to a lack of female role models. The week is also linked to the international Women’s Entrepreneurship Day: 19 November serves to strengthen the work and presence of female entrepreneurs worldwide.
Bianca: Another advantage is specifically for women and female founders who are interested in starting their own business: We focus entirely on their concerns and needs. We create protected spaces where they are needed and focus on topics that have emerged from our analyses. This enables us to specifically promote female founders and offer them the support and inspiration they need.
What highlights and special moments can participants expect during Female Entrepreneurship Week 2023?
Bianca: An absolute highlight and of great importance to us is our kick-off event “Week Up!” on the evening of 13 November: Here we bring together women* interested in founding a company, entrepreneurs and supporters from Hamburg’s start-up ecosystem. We give strong role models from various industries a stage and have Dr Kirsten Mikkelsen, one of the most important players for female entrepreneurship in the north, on board. Greetings and a video message will emphasise the political importance of FEW’s mission.
This event promises to be both entertaining and inspiring. Moderated by an improvisation duo and humorously introduced by a comedienne, our speakers offer the audience real added value – for their own start-up idea, the current start-up and tangible support for female founders. After the stage programme, there will be plenty of opportunities to network with like-minded people and start-up supporters over snacks and drinks and to talk to mentors about your own start-up project.
Why should women definitely not miss FEW?
Laura: This week is full of opportunities, everyone can take something away with them: Inspiration for your own start-up idea, finding a mentor, getting to know like-minded people, making business contacts, forming a dream team, discovering valuable resources and putting together the building blocks you need to make your start-up a complete success with the help of the colourful programme. FEW is the place where women can realise their full entrepreneurial potential, so they should definitely take advantage of this opportunity.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Further information on the Female Entrepreneurship Week:
Participants* in Female Entrepreneurship Week can expect an exciting mix of sources of inspiration, empowerment opportunities and networking opportunities that will make this week something very special. Under the motto “Inspire. Empower. Connect.” is a 7-day programme with a total of 16 exciting events: The Startup Port at the University of Hamburg, for example, brings female founders together at an exclusive breakfast, while the “FRAUEN unternehmen” initiative introduces women to entrepreneurship in a playful way with an escape game. The start-up service at the Centre for Career Planning at HAW Hamburg has developed an exclusive confidence and resilience training course to overcome uncertainties and obstacles on the start-up path and is also presenting an online lecture series on the possibility of knowledge transfer from a successful female founder in scientific research.
In addition, various start-up teams will inspire the jury and audience on stage at the Campus Pitch; at Leuphana University’s Lunch&Learn, those hungry for knowledge will receive compact snacks on how to realise their own start-up idea from an experienced female founder every day. The Female StartAperitivo Academy from the Hamburg Investors Network also offers three varied workshops to teach practical skills and Pro Exzellenzia, together with Startup Port, offers a workshop and a panel discussion on freelancing and starting up as a career option.
Click here for the varied programme and registration options for FEW 2023.