The Lean In EU Women Business Angels Community is an initiative arising from an EU co-funded project, whose aim was to develop one of the new EUWBANs (European Women Business Angels Network) living hubs and to create a vital eco-system where female investors can benefit from networking opportunity, powerful learning and training, meeting peers and mentors for the empowerment of their leadership role, or have the chance to meet promising women entrepreneurs or startups looking for investment opportunities. X23 (https://x-23.org/who-we-are/) is the founder of the network as well as international manager and leader of the consortium of partners who are implementing the bootstrap actions.
The project is designed to support women entrepreneurship and specifically to support the growth of women business angels who are striving to get their role in a male-dominated environment (private equity). In parallel, this was reflected in the hurdles faced by women entrepreneurs getting funded, because the private equity sector is mostly populated by male investors who often do not understand a business idea from women who have typically different motivations and whose business is typically targeting women as consumers.
The general objective was to develop a programme to stimulate, enhance and empower female entrepreneurship, increasing the visibility of female investors and nurturing women business angel’s incidence in the sector by providing powerful training. This facilitated the international outlook, created the conditions for bringing out women leadership positions, improves the opportunity for accessing funds by women entrepreneurs coming from cross-cutting market sectors, ultimately boosting their opportunity to grow at the international level, and increasing the competitiveness of the participant countries’ entrepreneurs (Italy, Greece, Spain, Estonia).
During the project lifetime, over 1000 women were involved; a training programme was created and delivered across Europe targeting both WE and WBAs (each one designed the needs of WE or WBA); demo days were organized to get women on the spot in the entrepreneurial arena; awareness-raising campaigns via testimonials and role models were created involving 50+ women in EU. Two award ceremonies were organized, for the best women entrepreneurs and the WBA of the year, such as the South Europe Startup Awards (SESA), which is part of the largest startup ecosystem initiative globally (Global Startup Awards), celebrating the most innovative, talented startup ecosystem players worldwide. The SESA covers Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta and recognizes the best of the country’s startup ecosystems each year. A specific category is dedicated to female entrepreneurs for supporting them in getting exposed, gain visibility and facilitate access to funding.
The initiative involved +100 external stakeholders from many sectors during the co-funding period, both private and public organization and with a specific focus on business angels established clubs with the aim to create women pool there.
Currently, the network counts the active participation of relevant entities from Spain, Greece, the UK, Estonia, Italy and Belgium, including the European Business Angel Network (EBAN). Other key-parties are Addidi (UK), Conector (Spain), EstBAN — Estonian Business Angels Network (EE), Tallinn Business Incubators (EE), Starttech Ventures (G).