Women Entrepreneurship thriving in the Nordics

Future of Women Entrepreneurship in the Nordics

There is no doubt that women entrepreneurship is on the rise in the Nordics. According to a recent report by the European Commission, the number of women-led startups in the region has increased by 20% since 2014. This trend is driven by several factors, including an increased awareness of the entrepreneurial potential of women and a growing pool of talented female entrepreneurs.

What are the Nordics?

The Nordic Region is a region in Northern Europe comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and their associated territories. The region has over 26 million people and an area of 3.5 million square kilometres. The Nordic Region is known for its high standard of living, low crime rate, and strong social welfare system.

The Nordic Region has a long history of entrepreneurship and innovation. Recently, the region has become a hotbed for startups and women-led businesses. The region's supportive environment and strong infrastructure make it an ideal place for entrepreneurs to thrive.

Women's entrepreneurship is on the rise globally. And in the Nordics, we see a new generation of women entrepreneurs shaking up traditional industries and redefining what it means to be a business owner.

In this post, we will explore the future of women entrepreneurship in the Nordics. We will discuss the challenges and opportunities that they face, as well as the unique contributions they are making to the business landscape in the Nordics.

The current state of women entrepreneurship in the Nordics

The Nordics have long been at the forefront of gender equality, and this is reflected in the high rates of women entrepreneurship in the region. However, there is still room for improvement, particularly regarding access to finance and networks.

Currently, women make up around a third of all entrepreneurs in the Nordics. This is a higher proportion than in most other regions of the world, but it is still below the 50% mark that would represent gender parity.

Several factors contribute to the relatively high rates of women entrepreneurship in the Nordics.

Firstly, the region has strong gender equality laws and policies in place, which create an overall supportive environment for women in business.

Secondly, Nordic countries have high levels of education and opportunities for professional development, which means that women are well-positioned to start their own businesses.

Thirdly, the Nordic welfare state provides a safety net that allows people to take risks and start new businesses without fear of financial ruin.

And finally, Nordic culture values independence and self-sufficiency, which encourages both men and women to strike out on their own.

Despite these positive factors, there are still some challenges to further supporting women entrepreneurship in the Nordics.

The challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the Nordics

Last week Terhi Vapola, Vice President of Investments of Helen Finland, highlighted several challenges during the Regional She Loves Tech Finals.

Firstly, access to finance remains a challenge for many women-owned businesses. This can result from the smaller size of the Nordic countries, making it harder to find investors. Additionally, women entrepreneurs may have less experience than their male counterparts and thus may be less likely to receive funding from banks or other financial institutions. While some progress has been made in recent years with initiatives such as government-backed venture capital funds, more needs to be done to ensure that these initiatives are adopted. In Sweden, for example, there is a dedicated organization called Femin entrepreneur, which provides advice and resources specifically for female entrepreneurs. And in Denmark, the Women's Entrepreneurship Hub offers a free workspace for female-led startups.

Another challenge faced by women entrepreneurs is the lack of support networks. In many cases, women cannot rely on family or friends for help in starting or growing their businesses. This can make it difficult to get advice and mentorship, which can be essential for success. Additionally, there may be fewer networking opportunities available to women, as most business events and conferences are still dominated by men.

Finally, cultural norms can also challenge women entrepreneurs in the Nordics. In some countries, traditional gender roles still dictate that women should be responsible for domestic duties such as childcare and housework. This can make it difficult for women to balance work and home life, limiting the amount of time they have to dedicate to their businesses.

The opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the Nordics

In recent years, the Nordics have been at the forefront of promoting gender equality and women's entrepreneurship. The Nordics are home to some of the world's most successful women entrepreneurs. In Sweden, for example, 35% of all tech startups are founded by women. And in Norway, 38% of all new businesses are started by women.

She Loves Tech Nordics, the world’s largest startup competition for women, and the R3i Bootcamp Accelerator provides a global platform to accelerate gender lens founders onto the global stage and to level the playing field. For those companies that are women-led or have a business focus that serves women, each year, Founders can sign up to compete in a global pitch competition, giving them access to non-dilutive capital, global branding, know-how and a branding and media platform. The week-long R3i Bootcamp accelerator provides essential networking, knowledge and access to capital. This year's program showcased Founders from across Medtech, climate tech, material science, sustainability, artificial intelligence, and the metaverse.

There is a growing recognition of the role that these pioneering women entrepreneurs can play in driving economic growth and innovation.

Women garner higher returns in Climate Tech in the Nordics

What is very interesting is that Women in the Nordics are reaping the rewards of climate tech investments at a higher rate than their male counterparts, new research shows.

According to a study by Nordic think tank Sustainalytics, female-led climate tech companies in the region generate returns that are 3.5 percentage points higher than those of their male-led counterparts.

What’s more, the study found that women-led climate tech firms are also more likely to be profitable and to have a positive impact on the environment.

The findings are no surprise to experts, who say that women are often better positioned than men to identify and capitalize on opportunities in the green economy.

“Women have a different perspective when it comes to business opportunities,” says Helena Helmersson, CEO of Swedish fashion retailer H&M. “They tend to be more solution-oriented and look at problems from a different angle. This is an important asset in addressing sustainability challenges.”

Helmersson should know – under her leadership, H&M has become one of the most sustainable fashion companies in the world. The company has set ambitious goals to become carbon neutral by 2040 and to use only sustainable materials in its products by 2030.

The Sustainalytics study underscores the importance of gender diversity in the fight against climate change. Women account for over half of the population but hold less than 30% of seats in parliament and just 23% of Board seats.

The future of women entrepreneurship in the Nordics

The future of women entrepreneurship in the Nordics looks bright. With more and more women recognising their entrepreneurial potential and taking steps to start their businesses, we can expect to see even more successful women-led businesses in the years to come. This will have a positive impact not only on the economy but also on society as a whole, as more and more women take control of their destinies and achieve financial independence.

Based on the talent we have seen at She Loves Tech, it is indeed true. Dr. Miden Melle Hannah, the second-place winner in this year's Nordics finals, founded Multi4 and has invented a new medical device that removes bladder cancer in only 15 minutes without needing expensive hospitalization, surgery or anaesthesia. Eva-Marie Ea Stegeby is building a family business, taking dangerous metals out of our natural environment by focusing on heavy industries.

Terhi Vapola, Vice President of Investments of Helen Finland, encourages all women in the region, "Take the chance - and be the change you want to see in the world".

Yes, indeed. There is a lot of opportunity in this region for those willing to seize it.


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