WEP and Airbnb organised an event on April 10 to launch their collaboration in view of boosting female entrepreneurship in Europe. Under the new partnership, Airbnb and WEP will organize multiple workshops across Europe to share resources and toolkits to better support female entrepreneurs who are interested in using the Airbnb platform to start or grow their businesses.
The intimate cocktail lunch was hosted by MEP Claudia Tapardel, a S&D member and long defender of women entrepreneurship. She started the session with a reminder that women need not only the moral support of European institutions but also a more concrete one, with the creation of financial lines, and training for women who want to develop a career in business. She underlined that digital was helping minorities such as women to become entrepreneurs but that it should not turn into a competition with the traditional ways of doing business. She ended the speech with a call for ideas as the elections are approaching and newly elected politicians will be looking for fresh projects to support.
"In Romania, when there is a tough job to do, women are always asked to do it"
Claudia Tapardel, MEP
Our Secretary General Charlene Lambert then presented WEP and offered flowers to Georgina Browes from Airbnb to congratulate them for their fresh moving in Brussels and their new premises. Pooja Tanna, from Airnb London offices, explained the concept of Airbnb Experiences, a platform through which people list unique activities and can share their projects, interests and passions with visitors from around the world. More and more women who did not think of entrepreneurship started experiences and built a business model around it.
Five women from Norway, Italy, France and the UK who are Airbnb experience leaders in their cities then took the floor to share their stories and give advice on how to start a successful business on the platform. They also highlighted the gratification to establish a social connexion in their communities and how they felt thrilled to become mentor and inspire other women thanks to the Experiences. They ended with a positive message on gender equality, stressing out that relationship with men had to be collaborative and that even if we do not have the same skill set, we can learn from one another.
Their speeches sparked a lot of interest amongst the invitees, who asked them what their main challenges had been. The unanimous answer was the lack of information and lack of mentor. Another person asked why choose Airbnb to set up a business, and they highlighted that it was hassle-free, easy to set up and very adaptable. A member of the audience asked our Secretary General what was the missing link between the European and local dimensions. She pointed out that there was no strategy for women entrepreneurs where there are targets and milestones, but only scattered projects and initiatives.
WEP has been advocating for women entrepreneurship since 2015, organising quarterly high-level briefings alongside its partners SELDIA and Deloitte.
The Women Entrepreneurship Platform, alongside its sponsor SELDIA, had the pleasure to organise a lunch briefing on 23rd January at the European Parliament hosted by Marlene Mizzi MEP on the topic of Inclusive female entrepreneurship: the impact on job creation. The event was a real success and had a record attendance, thanks to the gracious participation of our dedicated speakers, who expressed the different standpoints in the civil society, business and institutions on women entrepreneurship. We especially thank the Minister of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, Marius-Constantin Budai, who detailed the priorities of the Romanian presidency on women’s employment.
The briefing started with a welcoming speech delivered by the Socialist MEP host, Marlene Mizzi, who highlighted the empowerment potential of developing an entrepreneurial activity for women. She stressed that practical solutions are especially needed in the beginning of the business creation, when it is most vulnerable. That is why in view of the upcoming European elections, the interest that policy-makers will hold for this topic to develop entrepreneurial capabilities for women is paramount.
"We need to assess the reasons as to why women entrepreneurs are not so present in the labour market. The contribution to the economy of women entrepreneurs must not be underestimated"
- Marlene Mizzi MEP
Marius Constantin Budai, Minister for Labour and Social Justice of Romania delivered his speech in his mother tongue and started by stressing that the Romanian Presidency considered women empowerment and gender equality as priorities for its mandate.
The Romanian State Secretary of the National Agency for Equality between Women and Men also attended to the event, a clear sign of the importance given to this topic by the presidency. The Minister explained that Romania developed economic programs for vulnerable women in rural areas and that the development of an entrepreneurial culture is key. He introduced the three priorities of the Romanian presidency relating to gender:
Maria Gabriela Zoana MEP presented the work done by the FEMM Committee and the European Parliament on female entrepreneurship. She strongly advocated to continue to encourage girls and women to develop their careers in STEM sectors.
She focused on the work-life balance and shared family responsibility, considering they will be key drivers to encouraging women’s participation in labour market. She finally underlined that important amendments on digitalisation of agriculture sector for female rural farmers were being negotiated in the FEMM Committee and she hoped they would be included in the European Parliament position.
Working at the Directorate General on Growth from the European Commission, Dana Adriana Puia Morel made a vibrant call to point out that women needed flexible hours and better day-care structures so they would not have to sacrifice their work aspirations. She also stressed that women are still more afraid of failure and less confident in their abilities than men and that is why role models must spread inspiring stories. She also reminded that the European Commission developed a platform, WEgate, which is a useful tool allowing for women business entrepreneurs to build a network.
"We want women to be the best that they can be."
- Dana Adriana Puia Morel
Ms Tekin ended her speech with a strong call to action in view of the European elections, and insisted to bring the focus on gender budgeting, as finance is key for women to start a business. She also advocated for equal representation of women and men and parity democracy in the European Parliament in the 2019 elections as well as in the appointment of the new college of European Commissioners.