Current landscape of initiatives to support gender-diverse investment in Europe

AuthorCastellano, Letizia; Skonieczna, Agnieszka
The mapping of Member States identified a total of 102 initiatives involving over 140 activities. All
Member States have some activities aimed at supporting women’s entrepreneurship.
Most of the initiatives focus
on mentoring and
networking. Funding
activities are the second
most common. They
usually involve
market-based funding
(loans and equity often
complemented by EU
funds), the matching of
investors with companies, prizes and grants. The targeting of female investors (focusing on
networking) is less pronounced than that of female entrepreneurs. An integrated approach of
promoting gender diversity in investment finance is rare at country level, despite appearing crucial in
tackling many of the barriers facing female entrepreneurs and investors (see Box 1).
At EU level, the Commission runs a number of networking initiatives, such as the European gateway
for women’s entrepreneurship (WEgate)10. Initiatives on the investors’ side are more embryonic, with
the EU pioneering support for networks of female business angels (European Commission, 2017).
Policy advice, monitoring and prizes for women entrepreneurs are also available, e.g. the EU prize for
women innovators under Horizon 2020 (European Commission, 2019).
Investment support under EU financial instruments and the European Fund for Strategic Investment
(EFSI) does not specifically target female entrepreneurship or female investors. Support for female
entrepreneurs has been provided to date through general instruments such as guarantee facilities for
SMEs, microfinance, equity products and European Investment Bank (EIB) framework loans (see
Box 1).
Overall, the current investment framework for female entrepreneurs and investors appears fragmented
and does not include a systemic and strategic focus on gender. As the EU discusses its policy strategy
and budget for 2021-2027, InvestEU offers an opportunity to adopt such an integrated approach to
stimulate more funding with a gender lens, catalysing investment in female-led enterprises and
harnessing the power of women as investors. On this assumption, the SME Strategy for a sustainable
and digital Europe11 presented by the Commission is giving InvestEU a central role in supporting
women-led SMEs under the gender-smart initiative.
Based on the economic research and country mapping provided in the annex to this paper, such an
approach should rely on three pillars:
investing narrow the gender investment gap;
nurturing develop the pipeline of quality projects to close the gap; and
stimulating change raise awareness of the gender investment gap.
11 An SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe COM(2020) 103 final, 10.03.2020

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