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Breaking Barriers: UN Women and European Business Angel Network Collaborate to Boost Women’s Entrepreneurship and Investment

UN Women and European Business Angels Network (EBAN) join forces to advance gender-inclusive investment in Europe. Within the framework of the new partnership, UN Women and EBAN aim to foster a diverse and gender-inclusive early-stage investment and innovation ecosystem in the region.

UN Women and EBAN signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to leverage their support of women in investing business throughout Europe and Central Asia within the framework of the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO platform and the EBAN Manifesto for Gender Balanced Investing. The new strategic partnership aims to address gender imbalances within angel investment and promote diversity across the investment and entrepreneurship landscape. Together, they call actors to action to champion female entrepreneurship and gender lens investment.

Eliza Fernandez Saenz, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia a.i., stated that, “despite several efforts, Europe has not yet fully unlocked one of its most valuable potential assets: women entrepreneurs and women-led companies. As studies show, even if women make up over half of the European population, they represent only 34.4% of the self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. That is why it is essential to recognize that investing in women and with women leads to stronger, more sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

As part of the strategic cooperation, UN Women and EBAN will exchange best practices and combine capacity-building efforts to promote women’s entrepreneurship. They aim to increase the representation of women in European angel networks and raise awareness of women’s angel investing. Additionally, the partnership will pave the way for new research initiatives, facilitating knowledge-sharing to create an equitable playing field for women entrepreneurs and investors while offering valuable insights to policymakers.

During the signing ceremony, Selma Prodanovic, Vice-President of the European Business Angel Network, said that, through this MoU, EBAN is forging a powerful alliance, reaffirming the organization’s commitment to fueling gender-balanced and diverse early-stage investment in Europe.

“By addressing gender balance within the angel investment asset class and promoting diversity, we aim to drive positive impact, enhance women entrepreneurship, and provide valuable insights for policymakers. Today, only 10% of angel investors are women and a mere 2% of venture capital is invested into female-only startups. Together with UN Women, we will leverage our common efforts to accelerate change and to create a more equitable and sustainable future for women-owned enterprises and women investors, contributing to women’s economic empowerment and to the benefit of us all.”

Selma Prodanovic, Vice-President of the European Business Angel Network, during the MoU signing ceremony.
Selma Prodanovic, Vice-President of the European Business Angel Network, during the MoU signing ceremony. Photo: EBAN

Ana Pashalishvili, programme specialist at UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, highlighted: “EBAN and UN Women have already partnered on country-level events, such as the Investment Ecosystem Conference in Georgia, as well as the 2022 edition of Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo. We have concluded that this focus on gender lens investment is a strategic priority for UN Women, and a win-win for all stakeholders.”

The cooperation between EBAN and UN Women will contribute to women’s economic empowerment, underlined as one of the four thematic areas in UN Women’s 2022 – 2025 Strategy Paper in line with Sustainable Development Goal No.5 – Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

About Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO:

Launched in 2021, the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO is a unique partnership platform to promote women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Europe and Central Asia region. EXPO provides an interactive space for women entrepreneurs, investors and private sector representatives for networking and collaboration, peer learning, ideas generation, capacity building and business development.

EXPO 2023 is organised by the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Yıldız Holding as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator supported by Mary Kay.

In 2023, the main EXPO event will be held virtually on 16 – 17 November. In addition, a series of satellite events will be organised in Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Türkiye and Ukraine.

About UN Women:

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

About European Business Angels Network (EBAN):

EBAN is the pan-European representative for the early-stage investor community gathering over 100 member organisations in more than 50 countries today. Established in 1999 by a group of pioneer angel networks in Europe with the collaboration of the European Commission and EURADA, EBAN represents a sector estimated to invest 11.4 billion Euros a year and playing a vital role in Europe’s future, notably in the funding of SMEs. EBAN is dedicated to fueling Europe’s growth by generating wealth and job opportunities through responsible angel investing, serving as the voice of angel investors in Europe and beyond.

About EBAN Manifesto for Gender Balanced Investing:

The EBAN Manifesto for a Gender-Balanced Angel Investing Ecosystem is a strategic initiative by the European Business Angels Network (EBAN) to address the gender balance issues in angel investing. This visionary plan commits to tripling women’s representation by 2030, rooted in EBAN’s mission of responsible investing and diversity promotion.  Recognizing the benefits of gender-inclusive communities and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Manifesto focuses on:

  • Increasing Women Angel Investors: Targeting 30% women network members by 2030 through support and collaboration.
  • Boosting Investments in Female Entrepreneurs: Encouraging a 30% capital investment in female-led startups for more balanced portfolios.
  • Increasing Women on Boards: Promoting gender diversity in strategic committees.

Source: ECA UN Woman