GLOBAL • GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
MAY 14, 2021
It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the world of business. That is why we are committed to empowering women both internally as a company, and in the work we do providing access to entrepreneurial education, funding and network. According to The Wall Street Journal, only 167 of 3,000 top US companies are led by women. Why is that when women make up around 47 per cent of the total workforce and millennial women make out half of the university-educated workers? Even when women are more educated or experienced, the gender pay gap is significant.
When talking about female founders, the data varies significantly according to the region of the world. As shown in the Seedstars report on The Benefits of Developing Women Entrepreneurship, only one in three businesses globally are owned by women, however the percentage goes towards less than 20 per cent in regions such as MENA and South Asia. Funding is also an issue for female founders, as there is an unmet gap of $260 to $320 billion in funding for women-owned companies. Similar worrying indicators show that men are three times more likely to receive angel investor fundings than women. You can read more on the importance of diverse dealflow in our recently published article here.
Seedstars strongly believes that gender equality shouldn’t just be a buzzword pulled out during Women’s History Month. Since our very beginning we have strived to be a gender equal workplace and are proud to say that 50 per cent of our team are women. Giving equal opportunity applies to everything, from our hiring process to promotions within the company. Gender equality shouldn’t just be a women’s issue. For starters, equality is a basic human right but it is also the way towards long term sustainable development. An analysis by the IFC has found that private equity and venture capital funds with gender-balanced senior investment teams generated 10 to 20 percent higher returns.
We want to promote such thinking across the board, which includes actively working on gender equality in all of our programs and competitions. The Women Entrepreneur Prize has been given out as part of the World Competition since 2016 to that year’s best female-founded startup and we have been focusing on sourcing women-led businesses for a variety of our programs.
As an investor we want to advocate Gender Lens Investing. The aim of the Seedstars International Fund 1, our first global seed stage fund, is to have over 30 per cent of female-led companies in our investment portfolio. At the end of 2020 we were at 25.4 per cent and working towards meeting our goal. Actively addressing the imbalance and targeting female-led startups already in the sourcing stages is crucial as they often get overlooked in the beginning stages. For more information on how to diversify the company investment portfolio, but also internal teams check out this handy guide by the IFC.
Founder supported by the Seedstars International Fund 1 by gender
The Gender Equity Track is a project piloted in 2018 to drive gender-inclusive training opportunities and catalyse more investment for female founders in Sub-Saharan Africa. The initial analysis three years ago showed that from the 5,000 applications the Seedstars World Competition received in 2017, only 14 per cent were female-led businesses, and of them only three per cent made it to top 10 in each country. The analysis made us think about how we can better understand the challenges female entrepreneurs face and thus, provide better support in training and opening to investment opportunities.
The goal of this project is to source 500 female-founded startups from Sub-Saharan Africa to the Seedstars World Competition every year. By participating, startups get personalized training and mentorship by industry experts within our community network, as well as a chance to win up to $500,000 in investment. We recognize that gender equality means compensation for the historical and social disadvantages that are preventing women from having a level playing field, so we have refocused on creating gender equity as a step in achieving long term equality.
In partnership with WeEmpowerAsia, a UN Women programme funded by the European Union, we are currently preparing for the launch of the ‘UN Women Care Accelerator’, a six month long tailor-made training programme for female entrepreneurs and businesses led by or supporting women in the care industry from Asia-Pacific. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already decreasing rate of female labour force participation in the region. By supporting care entrepreneurs to grow their business, the goal of the Care Accelerator is to provide quality, affordable care services that allow some women to pursue paid employment outside the home, whilst creating decent care jobs and income for other women. The goal of the programme is to create jobs and income for women, as this region in particular had an decrease in women labour force participation even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We are pleased to recognize female business owners for the diligence that they put into their success despite the challenges of COVID-19, and supporting them will be vital for a faster, more inclusive economic recovery.” said Katja Freiwald, Regional Programme Manager for WeEmpowerAsia, UN Women.
Applications for the programme are open until May 27th.
Each year we see an increase in the number of women-led startups, and this year was no different. Here are just some of the top female-founded startups from this year’s edition of the Seedstars World Competition working in various sectors and regions of the world:
The winner of this year’s Women Entrepreneur Prize is the Russian based startup Alter and their CEO and founder Olga Kitaina. Alter is a science-based service helping people to find the right professional psychotherapist with proper methods and specialization. Olga, who is a practicing psychologist herself, had trouble finding the right help and decided to launch Alter as an answer to the still taboo topic of mental health in her country. Alter’s matching algorithm considers a client’s particular needs, while also heavily screening potential therapists as Russia’s system is quite unregulated. See Olga pitching during the CEE Regional Finals here.
Also during the Regional Finals, we have had the opportunity to host three different panel discussions on women empowerment in Africa, Asia and Latin America with speakers from organizations such as UN Women, World Bank Group, Palladium Group, CAF and more. They discussed the challenges women face in everyday work environments, touched upon unpaid work, which women do two and a half times more than men, and shared what they and their companies are actively doing to foster women empowerment.
The discussion on women empowerment is not over, as there is still a long way to go in achieving full gender equality. Join us during the Grand Finale of the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 on May 20th, 2PM CET, and check out the previous panel discussion on our YouTube channel or website.
GLOBAL • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
Startups are Bringing Digital Education to Emerging Markets
Digital education is making education more accessible, affordable and valuable for students across emerging markets.
AFRICA • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Why Bridging The Financial Inclusion Gap Includes Education On Financial Literacy
QuickCheck not only bridges the financial inclusion gap but also educates people about financial instruments and the risks related to loans and overindebtedness as financial literacy isn’t part of the curriculum in many countries.
The Grand Finale of the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 is here!
The Grand Finale of the Seedstars World competition is here! Discover the most promising startups of the largest startup competition in emerging markets.
GLOBAL • AGRICULTURE
Improving Efficiency and Sustainability of Farming Businesses Through Digital Solutions
Gamaya leverages the agronomy and crop knowledge of our partners and uses remote sensing technology to reach scalability.
Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 announces Malaysian FinTech startup Finology as Global Winner of $500K funding
After almost a year-long virtual run, the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 announced this year’s Global Winner, Malaysian FinTech startup Finology, a startup that enables seamless access to financial products via the use of proprietary technology
GLOBAL • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
Early Childhood Development for a Better Society
Ensuring early childhood development and wellbeing means a better society down the line, and technological solutions can help not only children but also parents, caregivers, and teachers.
GLOBAL • WATER & SANITATION
Water Preservation As Means To Living In A More Sustainable Way
An idea born when Ramzi had to prepare his child’s bottle at 3 in the morning that changed it all and set off a passion to improve global water management.
GLOBAL • ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
Startups Have Recognized the Importance of Climate Action
We can’t afford to passively observe climate change anymore. Check out how these startups are working on their solutions.
GLOBAL • AGRICULTURE
How Blockchain Can Help To Create Sustainable And Transparent Supply Chains
Pierre-Yves Bridel and Peter Gustavsson went on to create OriginFood in 2018, a startup that develops solutions for tracking, tracing and certifying food products, based on blockchain technology.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
How Learning From Every Single Person You Meet Can Change Your Life
We spoke with Hossam Taher, CEO of Orcas, an app that helps learners in K-12 discover the best tutors in their area.
GLOBAL • AGRICULTURE
FoodTech in the Grand Finale
Find out how startups are revolutionizing Food and AgriTech by tuning into the Grand Finale, in partnership with VAUD.
GLOBAL • ECOSYSTEM ENABLER
Vaud is the Leading European Innovation Ecosystem: Here is How You Can Fit Right In
Seedstars has organized a webinar in partnership with the canton of Vaud on how they can help companies leverage government support for starting or expanding their business in Switzerland or Europe.
GLOBAL • FOOD & BEVERAGES
Innovation in FoodTech as a Way to Stop World Hunger
It may seem unbelievable that in 2021, when humanity has come such a long way in terms of technology and innovation, world hunger is still an issue.
GLOBAL • TECH
Discover Canton of Vaud as a leading European center for Innovation in Switzerland
You're invited to attend this webinar where you'll learn about our region as well as opportunities for potentially expanding your business and benefit from our innovation & start-up ecosystem.
AFRICA • OTHER
Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in Africa
Watch now an amazing panel discussion on Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in Africa.
ASIA • OTHER
Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in Asia
Learn more about Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in Asia.
LATIN AMERICA • OTHER
Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship in Latin America
Watch now an amazing panel discussion in Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship in Latin America.
GLOBAL • TECH
Take a Closer Look at the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 Grand Finale
The 2020/21 edition of the Seedstars World Competition Grand Finale will be the second one held completely online. To find out more about the agenda and speakers keep reading and don’t forget to register for the Grand Finale
GLOBAL • TECH
Seven themes of the Seedstars World 2020/21 Grand Finale
The seven themes we are tackling this time are: 21st-century education, women empowerment, climate action, childhood development, FoodTech, EdTech, and ICT Accessibility.
GLOBAL • TECH
The five startup finalists of the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21
These five startups have proven that no matter how difficult times may get, innovation is still at the forefront. We can’t wait to see them at the Grand Finale
AFRICA • AUTOMOTIVE
The most promising startups from Africa are here!
The winner from Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia, or Ivory Coast will get the chance to pitch with other startups globally for an investment of up to $500k.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Watch the best startups from CEE pitching!
Finalists from Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, and Armenia are battling for the chance to represent their region in the Grand Finale of the Competition
ASIA • FINANCIAL SERVICES
The best startups in Asia are ready to compete in the Regional Final!
The entrepreneurs from Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Pakistan are competing for an investment of up to $500k.