Start-ups: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in the Grand Duchy.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
“There’s a cream puff donut day, turtle day, bubble bath day, lost penny day--why on earth isn’t there a Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED)?” Wendy Diamond asked herself, before launching the official WED. An animal rights advocate and entrepreneur, Diamond has dedicated the majority of her life to helping “underdogs” thrive.
“Historically, women worldwide have been underpaid, undervalued, underrepresented, underfunded--and underestimated,” she says. “WED is dedicated, determined and driven to change this.” Diamond’s passion and message have struck a deep chord with likeminded women, and men, all over the world. The inaugural WED was celebrated on Wednesday in 144 countries, including Luxembourg.
Two weeks before the event, Kasia Kolodziejczyk, co-founder of GenCreo, an internet start-up, and of the Luxembourg chapter of Girls in Tech, decided to bring the event to the Grand Duchy. An entrepreneur herself, she has experienced the noticeable void of women in the start-up community, often attending pitch sessions in which no women present. “There are not enough places for women,” she says.
For so long, we have been unable to play a role that it doesn’t feel natural. Angela Merkel is the only head in Europe, but when women get together, we are ambitious. I thought, ‘if I could just get 30 women to attend this event, we could support each other’.” As it turned out, 147 people registered and she wait-listed 40 more.
Katarzyna Switalska, an asset management transfer agent who runs Geek Girls Carrots Lux to encourage women in ICT new technologies, helped promote the event. “I think it’s important to bring women together,” she says. “Our issues are different from men’s when it comes to careers and commitments. We need build awareness and promote each other.”
The event was headlined by Marjut Santoni, deputy chief executive of the European Investment Fund. A panel of female leaders and entrepreneurs followed, sharing inspiring stories, achievements and advice. After, attendees networked and dialogued with women from various backgrounds, professions and organisations.
Agnieszka Czupryn, a mother and digital media expert, moved to Luxembourg two years ago from Poland. Last year, she won second place in Start-up Weekend with a venture that allows people to customise their pasta. She has found balancing a family and her ambitions is hard, but was encouraged by WED. “This event is fantastic,” she says. “It shows women from Lux that they matter and they can inspire others.”
Indeed, the conference did just that; it was the world’s largest celebration of women innovators and job creators. Today, there are more than 3.6 billion women in the world, yet the World Economic Forum reports that no nation has achieved gender equality. Women only have access to 58-70% of the economic, educational, health and political resources and opportunities available to men.