On December 10 WEgate hosted the WEgate Summit 2020, an event which brought together the community of women entrepreneurs in Europe. The goal of this digital conference was to reveal and discuss the renewed vision of WEgate for this community: to inspire its members to connect and to support each other, to offer trainings and workshops on how to further grow their businesses and to provide access to insights from successful women entrepreneurs.
The event, engagingly moderated by Brussels-based entrepreneur Aida Axellson-Bakhri, kicked off with the opening word of Kristin Schreiber, Director in charge of SME policy, at DG GROW of the European Commission. Mrs Schreiber set the scene by explaining the importance of women entrepreneurship to the European economy and society, and how the European Union, besides supporting WEgate, offers many available programs to help women start and grow their businesses.
She was followed by David Caro, President of ESBA, WEgate leading partner, who presented the shared values that led the consortium of partners, composed of ESBA, MIR Foundation, Business Angels Europe, and Grow Your Business, to take on the management of WEgate. Eva Merloni, WEgate Project Manager, introduced the participants to the new WEgate visual identity and the upcoming features of the platform. This part of the conference was concluded by Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska, Executive Director of MIR, who delved in the added value of the WEgate Community as a vehicle to grow a stronger community of women entrepreneurs.
The next session focused on the inspirational stories of women entrepreneurs who managed to overcome the crisis and difficulties brought about by COVID-19: our audience could hear from the successful entrepreneurs Lisa Lang, Founder & CEO, The PowerHouse, Paloma Lozano, Co-founder and Managing Director of Innogate to Europe, and Anne Ravanona, Founder & CEO of Global Invest Her. Their stories and related advices to fellow entrepreneurs focused on self-care, resilience, confidence and, most importantly, the value of taking that first step and starting a business.
The event moved forward the presentation and analysis of the WEbarometer 2020. Professor Thomas Cooney of the Technological University Dublin, in charge of the data analysis, discussed the findings with Professor Helle Neergaard, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Head of the Department of Management at Aarhus University. While the discussants touched on many different points, one of the key conclusions was that women might have an alternative approach to business strategy than male entrepreneurs, but that does not mean it is any less effective and it is essential that this approach becomes equally appreciated and understood in the business ecosystem.
The morning of the event concluded with a broader talk with the members of the WEgate Community Council, chaired by Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska of MIR. This exchange focused on supporting women entrepreneurs, through different tools, like finance and funding, but also training and mentoring. The variety of perspectives and approaches from the Council members, coming from association supporting women entrepreneurs in Europe and in the world, provided the audience with many best practices they could apply in their own local or national context.
The event continued I the afternoon with four dedicated workshops on key business practices:
- Marco Torregrossa, Business Consultant and CEO of EuroFreelancer, led the workshop on platform-based business model. This innovative business models holds a lot of potential and participants how to plan it appropriately based on their target market.
- Florence Richardson, President of Femmes Business Angels, covered the key aspects of preparing to open your business to investors. The ability to attract investments in business plays a vital role in their scale-up and attendants were very eager to ear tips on how they could approach this in the best way.
- Niamh Gaffney, Psychology Coach and Founder of Directionality, presented to the audience how to perform in a crisis in the healthiest way by developing resilience. Participants were very inspired to hear about the most appropriate techniques to keep in balance under stressful conditions.
- Mary McKenna, Business Mentor and Co-founder of Awaken Hub, tackled the topic of the relationship between a business and its investors. She covered what it means to find the right investors, what can be expected and how a relationship can develop once a business gets in the next stage.
The event then concluded with the closing speech of Ms. Kerstin Jorna, Director General at DG GROW of the European Commission, who elaborated on the vision of the future of women entrepreneurship in the social and economic recovery of the European Union.
The WEgate Summit was a lively event which kept our audience engaged across the day and really set down the vision for the future of WEgate in the coming months and years. We want to support, inspire, inform, and bring together women entrepreneurs. Let us build a Community of women entrepreneurs across Europe together!
WEgate New Visual Identity