Ina Schlie has a mission. And it gets straight to the point without frills: more variety. In doing so, she explains why she sits on several supervisory boards and what motivates her there. But it also explains why she would like more women in the start-up scene. During start-up parties, she regularly watches the founders present their products. So she knows they don’t do worse than men. “Women who have started a business have more composure and test their business model even more than men could,” says Schlie.
This is why the former manager participated in the creation of the Encourage Ventures association. “We want to encourage women to start their own business, but also to encourage them to invest.” Women are less likely than men to start a business, statistics such as the German Start-up Monitor show that only around 16% of business starters are women. There are many reasons for this imbalance: In the early start-up phase, a business has to grow quickly, which is difficult to do with regular weekly hours, and certainly not part-time. Anyone who has children therefore needs help or gives up self-employment altogether. Additionally, women are more likely to have social enterprise ideas or to tackle issues that affect women but men do not understand.
Importantly, female founders are clearly less likely to receive capital than their male counterparts. This is because in the vast majority of cases the donors are men – and they promote men. For example, the Female Founders Monitor shows that about a third of businesses run by women would like business angels to provide capital – but only 7.7% actually received money from this source. The situation is similar for the other funding options: 41.5% of founding teams receive state funding, but only 27.5% of female founding teams.
Ina Schlie wants to change that. This trained office worker and graduate economist has spent most of her working life with the software company SAP. She headed the tax department there and was most recently deputy head of digital government. Its Encourage Ventures network, founded last June, offers an exclusively female investment program: SAP manager Alexa Gorman, for example, or supervisory board member Simone Menne, as well as Facebook Europe boss Angelika Gifford, boss by Douglas Tina Müller or Former Federal Minister Brigitte Zypries (SPD) and Schlie himself: “We started with 60 women,” she says, “there are now 300 investors.” Hundreds of start-ups have contacted us and they are happy that women are finally seated at the table where the capital is distributed.
Encourage Ventures supports start-ups that have at least one woman on the team – on the founding team, not in HR or marketing, as is often the case. In the pitch nights, which take place approximately every six weeks, the founders, investors and those who want to become one come together. As the network is a registered association, members donate money either individually or through the affiliates in which they sit.
Women are less likely to create start-ups, alone or together – they can do it as well as men. Studies have shown it. But those who are interested in it or are already part of the start-up scene also talk to other women and therefore know how difficult it can be. “When I then hear that only 1.6% of venture capital goes to female founders, that doesn’t encourage me to get into entrepreneurship,” says Schlie. The member of the multiple supervisory board therefore advises its founders to always bring a wide variety of perspectives into the start-up, to exchange ideas on all aspects of the product and to seek contributions in order to refine their own business model. ‘business.
However, Schlie also points out that the start-up rate in Germany is generally only one percent, which is bad from their point of view: “I am convinced that the best innovations come from the start-up world. up. But the fear of failure is very great and failure is not popular anyway, “it’s a major barrier to entry.” The founders know that access to capital is much more difficult here than in countries like the United States, explains Schlie. There are also bureaucratic obstacles. “In Germany you need three months to form a business officially and with all registrations. In 155 other countries around the world you only need one day.”
There is also a lack of networks, especially of women. And political and private initiatives are necessary, considers the person in charge. At Encourage Ventures, investors want to support and support their start-ups from the start – from the idea to the IPO, financially and as mentors. Experts also want the support of policy makers. In March, for example, the federal government invested ten billion euros in a future fund, which is enriched by an additional 20 billion euros from private and public funds. Schlie wonders: if the federal government can set quotas for women for companies, why not do it then? The State can regulate that investments are privileged in mixed teams.