“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”
The famous quote by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was greeted with laughter and applause when it appeared on screen at the opening event of the WEFOUND World Women Startups & Entrepreneurs Foundation. Albright herself would probably have enjoyed the evening – in front of a full house, WEFOUND founders and c0-CEOs Val Racheeva and Franziska Nylén presented their own networking platform and gave a stage to dozens of Berlin women startups to introduce their projects and companies to a like-minded audience.
As invited key speaker, Lauren Braun, president and founder of Alma Sana Inc., told her story about developing a simple and effective method of ensuring infants receive their necessary vaccinations on time, verifiably reducing child mortality in rural parts of Peru.
Braun described the journey from having a promising idea all the way through to successfully building her own company. Speaking of how she convinced established organisations to partner with her for the project, she said:, she said: “I knew that I had to go out on my own to prove that my idea had a potential worth investing in.”
The many projects that were presented at the event earlier this month included a mobile fertility application, coaching in efficient time management, a platform that deduces customised suggestions for art and architecture, an app that guides users through eating disorder therapy and many more.
WEFOUND is a non-profit UG (a form of limited liability company in Germany) aimed at helping women entrepreneurs find co-founders and mentors, get in contact with investors and develop their business concepts.
In September 2013, its first networking event took place, and its growing numbers have now topped 150. WEFOUND currently plans on extending its platform to online business courses and, through a crowdfunding campaign, hopes to be able to give scholarships and fundraising to companies and startup projects.
Although McKinsey reports showed that companies with the highest percentage of women in leadership positions have the highest financial returns, only 13 percent of new companies in Germany are run by women. Among other factors, getting financial support is often a real barrier: banks are generally less likely to give a startup loan to a woman and if they do, the conditions can be worse and the interest higher.
Interestingly, online lending platforms might provide a new and better opportunity for female entrepreneurs: according to a recent DIW study, on lending platforms like smava women have not only equal but even slightly higher chances of getting a loan granted than men – regardless of the investor’s gender.