Next week there are 3 possible events to attend which unfortunately all run in the evening. The aim of these events is to improve female entrepreneurship. I will attend 1. As a female entrepreneur in Switzerland somehow the barriers to success are not being recognised before building the solutions.
I agree that networking, access to expertise and funding are a positive step, but to really make a step change we need to understand a percentage of what females need to navigate, and why there are less female entrepreneurs here. My company launches later this year, both proof of concept and funding have been achieved. As an entrepreneur you find a way to make it happen, with every barrier you find a solution; it is a can do attitude. That said I want to lay on the table what I have found as a female entrepreneur in Switzerland:
- The investor audience are predominantly men. Walking into a room of predominantly white middle aged men, who have great difficulty putting themselves in the shoes of a concept that is a problem for ‘women’ is tough. Even if they have a wife, the ability to comprehend issues is myopic because Switzerland is a very conservative country with women only receiving the vote in 1970! Many women do not work or only work part time because of inadequate child care with Switzerland only investing 0.2% GDP in child care, compared to countries like Denmark who invest 10%.
- That gives rise to a second issue. For those women who have families events are organised at times which are not always possible. For those outside Switzerland who think just get childcare to put it into perspective. Child care alone costs me 72,000 CHF a year and getting a babysitter is not easy here. There barriers to solutions I outlined in a previous blog.
- The third issue is that out of the box thinking can actually be negative; yes really! My mentor who sits on several panels conceded this is a great idea, but for the Swiss this would be too much. This is how it should be done and we don’t have enough great ideas and implementation plans like this. What struck me is that as an entrepreneur, the current Swiss structure of funding and support puts limitations on what is funded or supported. The ideas and approach are impacted by a person’s thinking, which is shaped by gender and background growing up outside of Switzerland. Of course you tailor your message, but to get more success the diversity of panels needs to be addressed.
I still have great optimism for the barrage of initiatives for females, and possible investment. I just hope that the good intentions recognise and adjust some solutions.
- A mixture of evening and breakfast sessions.
- More diverse panels.
- Strong mentorship schemes because for me that has been the difference. I managed to find someone with the right experience to be my sparring partner.