An event in the European parliament on Wednesday heard that “inequality” between men and women “violates” fundamental rights. But the gathering, “Improving access to finance for women entrepreneurs,” was told that women who want to set up a business still face significant obstacles when it comes to accessing start up finance from banks.
This is despite the fact that women-led enterprises have 12 per cent higher revenue than a male-led equivalent, the conference heard.
There are 127m women entrepreneurs in the world but many females are still thwarted in joining them, it was said.
The meeting was hosted by Spanish MEP Teresa Jimenez-Becerril who said that inequality in accessing finance was a “burden to the economy and simply a waste of talent.”
She urged the EU to support female entrepreneurship, adding, “Greater equality between men and women can provide business advantages that will lead to economic growth.”
The conference was charged with asking why do companies with a woman on the team comprise such a small percentage of investments by venture capitalists?
One argument suggested is that businesses with women don’t perform as well.
But, the conference was told, data shows the opposite.
Businesses with women entrepreneurs on the executive team perform just as well or better than those companies led by all males.
Other data suggest that there is a huge opportunity for venture capital firms to create and capture more value if they seek and promote women partners who can connect them to qualified women entrepreneurs.
Investing in companies with a woman CEO or woman entrepreneur on the team is a good investment,it was said.
The EPP MEP added, “Unlike the US or China Europe seems to be far behind in self employment. The crisis that Europe is facing today is not helping a lot.
Reluctance to invest,insufficient funding and a damaged banking industry are elements that weaken the ambition to start a project from zero.
“It is imperative that the Commission and Parliament and national governments make clear that women must be treated as equally as men.”
Her demand was echoed by Anne Ravanova, founder of Global Invest Her, who champions the rights of women and female entrepreneurs.
She said,”A bias still exits towards women when it comes to accessing finance for a business and this has to be addressed.”
Further comment came from Nicole Primmer, author of a report which highlight existing gender gaps in accessing finance, who said, “Women can contribute to economic growth and the potential for women entrepreneurs is huge but, to a large extent, remains untapped.”
Austrian MEP Paul Rubig who has helped secure EU funding for women entrepreneurs, agreed, saying, “Entrepreneurship should be a number one priority for the EU.”
By Martin Banks