The Global Portal For Entrepreneurs: Turning 7 Billion Ideas Into Action
The NextWomen Europe Theme
Global Entrepreneur Envoy is Madi Sharma’s latest venture, establishing a social enterprise which is an International web-portal that unites and recognises entrepreneurialism in all its forms, across all boundaries, and in all its guises; a single global portal for entrepreneurs, like-minded individuals and organisations that want to turn Ideas into action, promote sustainability and celebrate success.
The portal includes member pages, networks, databases, case studies, celebration, analysis, research and support for turning ideas to action - together.
Madi is a public speaker internationally, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship, diversity, gender balance and her passion for corporate social responsibility (CSR).
She speaks from personal experience gained from being a victim of domestic violence, a single parent and from establishing her first company from her kitchen at home. This grew to 2 factories and 35 staff, and for which she received the honour of Asian Woman of Achievement and UK’s Best Boss, along with being the fastest company to pass Investors in People.
Additionally, Madi is a member of 'The European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, a Prime Minister’s appointment, representing the Employer’s Group. She has also been independently appointed to European Commission Vice–President Antonio Tajani’s Advisory Board for Industry & Enterprise where she represents entrepreneurship.
We spoke to Madi about her global portal for entrepreneurs, Global Entrepreneur Envoy; how the female founder networks across Europe can get involved and which countries across the continent have the best policies for female entrepreneurs!
TMW: Please describe your goal with Entrepreneur Envoy.
MS: The goal is to turn seven billion ideas into action ….this is also my personal goal
The Portal has been created to support a unique niche of individuals and organisations: like-minded people with vision and creativity that also have humility and who want to make change happen to create a better society. The structure of the Portal is a self-sustaining social enterprise. This is the first Global Portal for Entrepreneurs.
The global site pledges to inform policy makers and governments, recognise success and make culture change happen.
It asks its members to engage and share as much as possible, to make change happen through support, to commit to promoting entrepreneurship and to work together to turn Ideas into Action.
The portal is not a social network – although it will have thousands of international members who can share their skills, knowledge and experiences – it is a call to action for those who want to see entrepreneurship recognised for its value to society and community.
Members fit into five categories; individuals with the entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurial NGOs/charities and education, service providers and universities who are deliverers of entrepreneurs support tools, policy makers who create the environment conducive to entrepreneurship and aspiring entrepreneurs, individuals who want to turn an idea into an action but don’t know how to.
A community of like-minded entrepreneurs unites and recognises entrepreneurialism in all its forms, across all boundaries, and in all its guises. Economies, wealth creation, employment markets, social well-being, sustainability and the future of the planet reside in the hands of entrepreneurs – those capable, innovative, driven individuals and organisations that can effect change and make things happen.
Through the promotion of entrepreneurship, the goal is to bring 7 billion ideas to fruition by working individually or collectively so that solutions can be found socially, environmentally and economically for as many on the planet as possible.
TNW: Where does your interest in entrepreneurship come from?
MS: I am a survivor of domestic violence. My only option as a single parent with two kids and no money, no skills and no qualifications was to start my own business at home. It grew it into a successful venture which strengthened me, my family, those who worked for me, and the communities we worked in.
The power of entrepreneurship is immeasurable and I am its biggest advocate. I am who I am today because of entrepreneurship.
TNW: What is Act4Growth about and what is the goal in Europe?
MS: Recognizing that policies to support women-owned businesses have fallen off the European Commission’s legislative agenda. Twenty-seven citizens, one representing each member state, have initiated a European Citizens Initiative to make women in business a focus of ECONOMIC policy. A European Citizens Initiative, ECI is an instrument set up within the European Treaty and legislative process to enable citizens of the EU to have a voice.
In this case the ECI, known as Act 4 Growth, presents four key policies which are needed to increase the number of female entrepreneurs. Significant measures are needed to capitalize on the full potential of enterprises for sustainable economic growth and job creation in Europe, especially following the crisis. ACT4Growth proposes:
1) The creation of an office of European Women's Business Ownership in order to establish an infrastructure that supports female entrepreneurship.
2) A Women’s Enterprise Director to be appointed within the Commission to raise awareness about the economic benefits of encouraging more women to start and grow businesses.
3) The initiative asks for the collection of gender-disaggregated data on women’s enterprise across European regions.
4) Lastly, it seeks the enforcement of current gender equality legislation with a focus on improving transparency in the allocation of resources and funds by gender.
It is crucial for the viability of the European economy that these proposals become legislation. In 2013, the role of women-owned businesses is more important than ever.
As US statistics show, the role of female entrepreneurs in growing the economy, and creating and sustaining new jobs is the key to recovery.
It is these same four policies that succeeded in doubling the number of women-owned businesses in the US over 10 years in 1988. Europe is now 35 years behind!
Today, the European Citizens’ Initiative, ACT4Growth, begins collecting signatures of citizens across the European Union. The initiative has one year to gather 1 million signatures so that its proposals can be considered for EU legislation. They invite all to SIGN as they call on the European Commission to action in support of women entrepreneurs.
It is an economic imperative!
For further details and to read the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on which this initiative is based please visit www.ACT4Growth.org
TNW: There are hundreds of networks for female entrepreneurs in every country in Europe, are they involved in your scheme? What can they do?
MS: They will be! We have lots of them on our databases and, as soon as the online collection system has been approved by the EU commission, we will be contacting all the business groups, and women's organisations. We have to collect 1 million signatures – Europe is 500 million people, 51% female. We should be able to achieve our goal in 3 months – but we cannot do it alone.
We need as many people to help us as possible and that is all we ask, for people to sign themselves, and to ask others to sign, both men and women!
TNW: Which countries in Europe have the most successful policy for female entrepreneurs? And what does it entail?
MS: The UK probably has one of the best – but sadly none are achieving anything substantial. This is what we aim to change.
Most of the success from female entrepreneurship comes from grass roots activities not from Government policies as they still refuse to acknowledge the value of women in business to the economy.
Women's Enterprise Scotland are probably one of the most proactive at engaging woman in the locality.
TNW: One of the main problems with female entrepreneurs is that they choose companies within industries in which it is very hard to grow a large business, and they underfund their businesses; how can you change that?
MS: This may be a stereotype statement in that actually we don’t have proof! There are no statistics from Europe.
The latest statistics from the US show that women-owned SMEs are outperforming male owned ones across ALL sectors!
We know from the UK that banks lend less to women and charge a higher interest rate, hence women-owned business tend to be underfunded. Plus traditionally women are more risk averse.
It is only by supplying evidence, through proof of discrimination towards women-owned businesses from statistical evidence, that we will be able to engage more female entrepreneurs. For this we need more role models, more female entrepreneur friendly policies and an equal share of the funding pot which supports entrepreneurs!
TMW: Which female entrepreneurs are involved in your activities?
MS: We have engaged all 28 member states, using our networks of business and women's groups, plus Facebook and Twitter, and have wonderful women and men offering their support – too many to mention.
TNW: What schemes lead to successful female entrepreneurs?
MS: We know the four policies we want to implement are the key building blocks at this stage. Before we can start on anything, we have to have the statistical evidence.
The US implemented these four pieces of policy and doubled the number of female entrepreneurs over 10 years.
They have now been able to build on that to now have women-owned SMEs creating more jobs and more growth than male-owned SMEs!
Sign Up to our Newsletter
So you enjoy The NextWomen. Why not sign up to our monthly newsletter?
You get a Letter from the CEO :-), the chance to catch up with the best of our recent articles - and some extra things we throw in once in a while.