Investment in women’s entrepreneurship is an investment in change

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Women entrepreneurs, investors, businesspeople and stakeholders from business and investment ecosystem across Europe and Central Asia joined the unique Investors Pitch Finale organized by UN Women and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) to address one of the biggest challenges women entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses: access to capital.

The Investors Pitch Finale organized by UN Women and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) addressed the challenges women entrepreneurs face. Photo: UN Women
The Investors Pitch Finale organized by UN Women and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) addressed the challenges women entrepreneurs face. Photo: UN Women
The unique Investors Pitch Finale addressed the challenges women entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses. Photo: UN Women

The number of women startup founders is significantly low in Europe and Central Asia. Women account for less than a third of entrepreneurs in Europe and the rate of entrepreneurial activity among European women is at 5.7% compared to an average of 11per cent in the rest of the world. This is partly because they start fewer companies than men but also because even when women entrepreneurs create a startup, they have trouble accessing assets, financial services, as well as information and markets. Women entrepreneurs receive less than half of the investment capital than their male peers and could pull only a tiny fraction of (1 per cent) of venture capital investment in 2021. Despite this, for every $1 investment raised, women-owned startups generate double ($0.78) the revenue than men-run startups ($0.31) and providing them with equal opportunities could create $160 trillion in wealth from better use of their skills, experiences and ideas.

UN Women and KAGİDER, with the financial support of Mary Kay, joined forces to address this challenge women entrepreneurs face. 25 women entrepreneurs from 9 countries across Europe and Central Asia joined a bootcamp through an intensive training programme to increase their capacities in attracting investors to their businesses. The bootcamp was composed of four workshops aiming to equip women entrepreneurs with the necessary tools for presenting their companies to investors and provided a framework to women entrepreneurs to learn about developing an effective investors pitch, defining different components of the business model. Women entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to work individually with their dedicated entrepreneur coaches.

Organized jointly by UN Women and KAGİDER as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Initiative supported by Mary Kay, the bootcamp culminated in the “Investors Pitch Finale” on 29 April and brought women entrepreneurs together with investors to pitch their early-stage startups, minimum viable products and business blueprints to investors and businesspeople.

Having completed the different trainings throughout the bootcamp, 25 women entrepreneurs from Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo[1], Kyrgyzstan, North Makedonia, Moldovia and Serbia pitched their early-stage startups, minimum viable products and business blueprints to investors during the unique event. Following their pitches, investors offered financial support, mentorship and networking opportunities to women entrepreneurs to help scale-up their businesses.

Investment in women entrepreneurs is an investment in change because they bring so much to the table: innovation, competitiveness, new values and greater returns.

El-Yassir
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Alia El Yassir

Speaking at the event, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Turkey Representative Alia El-Yassir said: “When women entrepreneurs are not given equal access to economic opportunities, we are simply missing out on a great investment opportunity. Even though women get half the investment capital compared to men, their companies deliver twice as much revenue for each dollar invested[2]. Investment in women entrepreneurs is an investment in change because they bring many things to the table, including innovation, competitiveness, new values and greater returns. You've heard it before, but it's worth saying again: investing in women-owned businesses is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do!”

Access to financial resources is one of the biggest hurdles for women entrepreneurs.

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Emine Erdem

Commenting on the bootcamp and the “Investors Pitch Finale”, Emine Erdem, President of KAGİDER said: “Access to financial resources is among the most important hurdles for women entrepreneurs on their way to grow. It is important for women entrepreneurs to reach out investors and convey their needs and expectations right to overcome this hurdle. We will give significant practical information to women entrepreneurs from 8 different countries on the subject through this bootcamp. Then they will make presentations to potential investors. I believe that it will be a successful program and we will get good results. I would like to thank our partners in this program, UN Women ve Mary Kay for their contributions.”

Access to capital on both domestic and international markets is one of the most critical gaps faced by women entrepreneurs. We must all work together to close the financing gender gap.

Gibbins
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Gibbons

Chief Operating Officer at Mary Kay and co-founder of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Deborah Gibbins said: “According to the World Bank[3], 2.4 billion women of working age still do not enjoy the same economic rights as men. IFC has estimated that worldwide, more than 70 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises have inadequate or no access to financial services. Access to capital on both domestic and international markets is one of the most critical gaps faced by women entrepreneurs. We must all work together to close the financing gender gap. This is why the Pitch Finale event matching women entrepreneurs with investors is so timely!”


[1] All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

[2] Boston Consulting Group, 2018. “Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet.”

[3] World Bank, 2022. “Women, Business and the Law.”