Is the European Commission Considering These 7 Best Practices for Female Entrepreneurs?

Ever so often we talk policy on this magazine. It seems that the European Commission is serious in putting the topic of female entrepreneurs on its agenda. It will mean that policy will be made which supports female entrepreneurs in growing their business across Europe.

In my view, at its best, legislation should be made which would:

  1. Increase the percentage of women entrepreneurs in general.
  2. Grow the number of investors that are investing in women-led companies.
  3. Increase the number of female entrepreneurs that have a turnover of more than 1 million euro.
  4. Decrease the interest rate for female entrepreneurs loans.
  5. Increase the percentage of women in decision making roles.

In November 2012, we were told this week at the European SME Week Summit in Brussels, a report will be issued that sets the new policies of the European Commission regarding female entrepreneurs.

I immediately thought about how such a process would run, which people would be involved, and what information they would be using to come to a reasonable policy. Are these people in Brussels entrepreneurial enough to come up with measures that work?

Let me give you my view on how the policy makers in Brussels should look at this.

First, let me tell you that I am in favor of activities that have proven to work, and get them on a larger scale. Get a minimal viable product, test it, pivot it and when it works, scale it. This is how you grow a company, get a proven concept and make it work even better.

So let’s use this method for making policy, let's review activities that are undertaken to support female entrepreneurs. Let’s track those activities that work, get them on a larger scale and make them sustainable. So benchmarking is really important.

Look to the eco-system that caters to female entrepreneurs: networks and programmes that bring together entrepreneurs, investors, individual companies that acquire companies, IPO’s and professionals. Which one are working, which one have been proven, which one are a MVP and need some pivoting?

What should Brussels not do?

Don't invent another network (there are already 700 in the UK, 500 in The Netherlands etc. and they all have in common that they have no effective programme). Let’s not grow all activities separately, let’s not invent the wheel over and over again.

You get it?

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So let’s see what is working?

Paris Pionnieres:

Paris Pionnieres started an incubator for female entrepreneurs, it was supported by the French government, and attracted great women-led companies. It led to French Pionnieres, and then it scaled to Maroccan Pionnieers, Brussels Pionnieres etc. As a consequence, hundreds of female entrepreneurs have started businesses.

WeConnect:

Female entrepreneurs are connected by this programme to large companies that have committed to put a percentage of their supplies to female entrepreneurs. WeConnect is a global organization that has provided female entrepreneurs opportunities to grow the business.

Astia:

Technology companies with a woman on the founding team get in Astia a great network of 3000+ men and women experts, an entrepreneur programme and peer2peer networks. It's a global programme in US and Europe and has a great success rate that sees companies thrive.

The NextWomen:

Visibility and Pitch events are organized tby The NextWomen to provide female entrepreneurs a stepping stone contact network and advice for access to finance. Female entrepreneurs who participate have a 25% succesrate. The Pitch events were given the royal and governmental approval by Royal Highness Princess Maxima of The Netherlands and the Minister of Economic Affairs Maxime Verhagen in this video message for the SME Week Summit 2012.

We Keep on Growing:

In this mentorprogramme, 30 female entrepreneurs are mentored by 15 mentors, a programme of 1 year. The companies that have participated have increased their sustainability and achieved growth by hiring more employees.

Make mine a million

This program Make mine a million let's entrepreneurs in a peer2peer setting work together to learn from each other and to increase the turnover of companies. It's highly successful.

Entrepreneurs Organisation

This global network EO brings together entrepreneurs with a certain ambition who under strict rules discuss issues regarding growing a business. Very effective and professional.

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These are all networks and programmes that work; hey Brussels let’s scale them!

So my advice would be to the European Commission, please look into the programmes and networks that have proven to be effective. Use those programs and networks to set a policy for all of Europe, support those organisations, promote those networks, call them to answer your questions on how to increase effective female entrepreneurship in Europe.

Don't invent the wheel. Please.

Image of the European Commission courtesy of Sébastien Bertrand

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