Over the last 5 years, we’ve worked with over 300 early-stage / idea-stage startup teams, with approximately 1/3 women founders, co-founders, or top employees. We’re proud of that high rate of participation of women, and perhaps it’s better than most entrepreneurship programs, but we also saw need and room for improvement.
In our current Startup Scouts cohort (in participation with the Office of the Prime Minister in Lebanon, and with strategic partner Alfa Telecoms), leveraging the hybrid (online+offline, but primarily virtual) approach of the Pitchworthy platform, we have just over 50% women co-founders .
We think this new hybrid approach and the ability for people to participate from home, from wherever they are in the country (or world), with more flexible scheduling, and connecting people to more high quality mentors and trainers around the world, will help us expand the number of people who can take part in such programs, and in particular we think it will help more women participate and benefit from high quality entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship support.
This fits with our mission to reduce, and eventually eliminate, barriers of geography that contribute to inequality of opportunity as relates to tech and entrepreneurship support worldwide.
Indeed, just today at the “ITU Regional Conference on ICT for Women in the Arab Region – ICT for Women’s Empowerment” discussion in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Saroj Kumar Jha, Regional Director of the Mashreq Department at the World Bank, highlighted public transportation challenges as a key limiting factor for women’s economic participation in the MENA region. In today’s world of tech entrepreneurship, and with virtual/hybrid entrepreneurship platforms like Pitchworthy, we can greatly reduce the impact of those barriers (and hopefully mobilize more support to specifically address those barriers, as well).
From our perspective, the issue of women in tech, entrepreneurship, and other leadership positions (academia, business, politics, etc) is not only a “women’s issue”, but rather an issue that all of us should be concerned with. Diversity of minds, ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds is critical in all those fields, and with the increasing power of technology over the last decades, it has become ever more critical to have more diversity in tech leadership worldwide. Both men and women, boys and girls, and communities, countries, and economies more broadly benefit when we have stronger participation of women in those fields, and greater diversity more broadly speaking.
This is also why we enthusiastically responded when the #50inTech team recently reached out to us to join their initiative to build momentum towards 50% participation of women in tech worldwide.
We’ve been active in promoting women in entrepreneurship and SMEs for many years, both externally in the ecosystem and in our own programs and organization. From our side, we’ve long known that there are many capable women entrepreneurs (or aspiring/potential entrepreneurs) in Lebanon and the EuroMENA region, so we saw representation of women in our startup programs as a reflection and measure of us and our own programs, our methods, our outreach, and how we’re engaging women as trainers, mentors, and speakers. We’re excited to be joining forces with the broader #50inTech community, and other partners in Lebanon, EuroMENA, and globally, to keep building momentum in these efforts.
We think just over 50% in our current program is a good step in the right direction, and we hope to maintain balanced participation as we grow. More than a hope, we will continue to explore ways to maintain that balance, and we will set up a system to have regular public reporting on the participation of women in our programs and other programs on the Pitchworthy platform. We hope other startup programs, accelerators, investors, and others in entrepreneurship worldwide do the same as well, and we would be happy to join in some efforts for shared and aligned reporting to help improve transparency in this mission as well.
Below is a small blurb we’re sharing on behalf of the #50inTech organizers. Please check it out, fill out the survey, and join the movement.
– The Pitchworthy Team
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Join me in supporting #50inTech, an incredible global initiative that aims to reach gender equality in the tech industry, for which I’m very proud to be an Ambassador.
Today, there are only 10% of female founders worldwide, yet startups co-founded by women outperform male-only founded startups by 63%. Women are the invisible force of innovation.
In light of this, 50inTech is launching a global campaign – “Time to be #50inTech” – and calling all female founders and innovation players (male or female) to answer the following 3 minute survey, to help identify them and their needs : www.50intech.com
The learnings will be used in February to start the co-creation of a powerful inclusive platform aimed at supporting and empowering female founders where they need it the most.
Join us and help us by filling in or sharing our survey among your networks!
Check out the Ambassadors and the survey here: