1.1. The need to support Women Entrepreneurship in the EU
Entrepreneurship represents one of the main sources of growth and job creation worldwide. Today, SMEs create 85% of all jobs in Europe. Starting-up more enterprises in the EU is necessary to create new jobs and re-ignite the economy in Europe. However, according to the latest 'Eurobarometer', only 37% of Europeans today prefer being self-employed or running a business to having a salaried job, in comparison to 51% in the USA and 56% in China. Europe lags behind in exploiting its entrepreneurial potential.
In this context, Women Entrepreneurs represent a source of untapped entrepreneurial potential.
Women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 29% of entrepreneurs and one third of all business starters in the EU. In 2012, the entrepreneurship rate for women in the EU was 10%.The majority of one person enterprises (78%) are run by women. The areas of business that women prefer are health and social work activities, services and education.
Women continue to be held back from launching their own companies by a range of barriers including education, stereotypes and lack of role models. They face challenges linked to access to information, lack of tailor-made training opportunities and work-life balance. Women also face more difficulties in access to finance and access to business networks.
The present call aims to address these difficulties by supporting the emergence of more women business angels in the EU, and their networking with women entrepreneurs, with a view to unleashing the potential of women’s business talents and encouraging the creation of more women-led businesses.
1.2. The EU actions to support Women Entrepreneurship
The key European initiative aimed at reigniting the culture of entrepreneurship is the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.
The Action Plan is a blueprint for decisive action to unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential, to remove existing obstacles and to revolutionise Europe's entrepreneurship culture. Investments in changing the public perception of entrepreneurs, in entrepreneurship education and in supporting groups that are underrepresented among entrepreneurs are indispensable in order to create lasting change. Entrepreneurial activity in Europe can only thrive in the long term if a large number of Europeans recognise an entrepreneurial career to be a rewarding and attractive option.
The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan is built on three main pillars:
1) Entrepreneurial education and training
2) Creation of an environment where entrepreneurs can flourish and grow, and
3) Developing role models and reaching out to specific groups whose entrepreneurial potential is not being tapped into to its fullest extent or who are not reached by traditional business support outreach.
Under action pillar 3, women are one of the specific groups identified as not sufficiently exploiting their potential or not being reached as effectively by traditional business support measures. This lead to the following EU actions to support and promote women entrepreneurship
successful projects under this call are expected to build :
• The European network to promote Women's Entrepreneurship (WES):
The WES is a policy network with members from 31 European countries (the EU-28, Iceland, Norway and Turkey). It is composed of government representatives responsible for promoting female entrepreneurship. WES members provide advice, information and contacts regarding national support measures for Women Entrepreneurs. They also help in identifying good practices and future policy direction to the European Commission.
• The European network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors:
Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors are successful entrepreneurs campaigning to inspire women of all ages to become entrepreneurs. The Ambassadors help to raise the confidence necessary for setting up and creating successful businesses. They act as role models, inspiring other women to become entrepreneurs by telling their own stories. The Network, which was supported by European Commission's grants until 2012, consists of around 360 entrepreneurs in 22 European countries who act as ambassadors across Europe.
The European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs:
Mentors provide advice and support to female entrepreneurs on the start-up, running, and growth of enterprises in the early phase of their business' life (the second to the fourth year of existence). The Network was supported by European Commission grants until 2013 and has around 200
mentors in 17 European countries.
• The WEgate : the European E-Platform for Women Entrepreneurship:
The main initiative of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan targeting women is the creation of an on- line, Europe-wide E-Platform for women entrepreneurs(WEgate). WEgate will be an one-stop shop for women of all ages who want to start, run and grow a business. The platform will facilitate access to available training, mentoring, advice, information on how to start-up and grow a business, how to access funding, new markets and partners. It will also provide business networking opportunities for women.
Itr will bring together local, national and European stakeholders and facilitate the exchange of good practices and policy dialogue about women entrepreneurship.
The e-platform will go live in October 2016.
1.3. The need to support the emergence of Women Business Angels
The European Commission (DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs defines a Business Angel (BA) as follows: “A knowledgeable private individual, usually with business experience, who directly invests part of his or her personal assets in new and growing unquoted business. Besides capital, Business Angels provide business management experience for the
The definition used by EBAN (The European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and other early stage market Players) further elaborates on key characteristics of Business Angels. According to EBAN, a BA is an individual investor, investing directly or through his/her personal holdings his/her own money, is financially independent and invests predominantly in seed or start-up companies with no family relationships. He or she also makes his/her own (final) investment decisions, invests with a medium to long term time-frame, and is ready to provide strategic support to entrepreneurs from investment to exit.
Typically, the Business Angel is a male aged between 35 and 65 years old with successful prior experience as an entrepreneur or a manager investing between 25,000- 250,000 euros or the equivalent of 15% of their own funds in a single venture – usually a start-up firm – and supporting it with management advice and networking in business and company finance circles. Usually, the BA invests directly in a company through his or her own contacts. They act privately and generally prefer to remain anonymous.
It is estimated that only around 5% of business angels in Europe are women. 10 Yet, with an employment rate of women in the EU of 63.4%, and more and more women holding leadership positions and taking decisions in companies, there is an increased number of women with private funds, willing to invest, that could be potential business angels in Europe.
These women represent an underdeveloped source of investors in Europe.
Furthermore, studies show that women perceive innovative and creative business ideas differently than men. Women business ideas are often not perceived to be as marketable as men's and when they are asking for funding, they are often judged by male-dominated committees. The presence of more Women Business Angels in Europe would enable more Women Entrepreneurs to access investment funds and partner with experienced businesswomen. It is therefore necessary to increase the number of Women Business Angels in Europe. This call aims to enlarge the number of Women Business Angels in Europe, with the following profile: a woman with business experience who:
o directly invests part of her personal assets in new and growing unquoted business;
o is aware of specific challenges that Women Entrepreneurs face (e.g. in starting-up a business, accessing finance, networking, etc.); and
o is ready to share her knowledge and know-how with Women Entrepreneurs and other business angels and available to meet them regularly for a minimum of two years.
2.1. General objective
The general objective of this call is to increase the number of Women Business Angels (WBAs) in Europe, and to facilitate the funding of Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) by Business Angels.
The selected consortia of Business Angels for Women Entrepreneurs under this call will form the European Community of Women Business Angels for Women Entrepreneurs.
It is expected that the selected consortia will cover at least 10 EU Member States.
2.2. Specific objectives:
This call has 9 specific objectives. Each objective represents a Work Package (WP) and is explained in detail below. The actions are applicable to the countries where each consortium will be active.
1) Creation of a WBAs consortium with partners coming from at least 4 EU Member States (MS).
2) Perform a survey and analysis to identify the success factors, the challenges and obstacles that women are facing to become business angels, implement a strategy and propose concrete measures to tackle these obstacles and increase the number of WBA in the regions of the consortium.
3) Networking and providing information about the WBAs members of the consortium and propose ways to facilitate transnational community cooperation via the European e-platform for women entrepreneurship (WEgate).
4) Providing a detailed recruitment plan of WBAs, including a new member sponsor recognition programme.
5) Development and delivery of training and mentoring programs for the recruited WBAs.
6) Organisation of training for pitching and relevant business strategies for women entrepreneurs.
7) Organisation of pitching events.
8) Communications strategy.
9) Exit strategy – Development of Community sustainability and continuous cooperation plan.
WP1. Creation of WBAs consortia
The aim is to make Women Business Angels services available to as many European countries as possible.
Applicants are therefore required to apply together as partner organisations in a consortium of at least 4 Members States to offer such coverage. To the extent possible, such consortium should bring together relevant local/regional/national initiatives that might exist in each country it is aiming to cover.
Each consortium will encompass partners coming from at least 4 different EU Member States.
The consortium partners should be:
− at least one WBAs association/network/club;
− business angels associations/network/club;
− business support organisations, business associations and business support networks;
− chambers of commerce and industry, chambers of handicrafts or similar bodies;
Applicants should demonstrate in their proposal how they plan to mobilise and collaborate with relevant local stakeholders who are not part of the consortium like other Chambers of Commerce, Women Entrepreneurs associations, start-up and growth support structures, the Enterprise Europe Network partners etc.
The proposal should also provide details of how each consortium plans to network with other consortia, with a view to enlarging funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs beyond their region.
WP2. Survey on key obstacles, challenges and success factors of WBAs
As presented in the Background section (see 1. Context), WBAs represent an underdeveloped source of investors in Europe. Data and reports with regards to this situation are extremely limited.
The successful applicants should therefore analyse the reasons of the under-representation of WBAs, in order to develop a strategy to overcome these obstacles and recruit more WBAs. The successful applicants are thus expected to launch a survey to collect data to identify the success factors, the challenges and obstacles that women are facing to become business angels; implement a strategy and propose concrete measures to tackle these obstacles and increase the number of WBA in the regions of the consortium. Depending on the particularities of each country covered, these surveys should be launched at local, regional or national level.
These measures should be implemented by each consortium during the recruitment of WBAs under WP4.
The reports of the survey results and the proposed solutions should be disseminated to relevant stakeholders via the appropriate means. They should also be published on the WEgate.
Collaboration among the successful consortia with regards to the dissemination of the surveys' results and proposed solutions is encouraged.
WP3. Provide information about the WBAs members of the consortium and facilitate transnational community cooperation via the WEgate
The creation of the ECWBA by the relevant consortia should be immediately followed by the creation of dedicated webpages on the WEgate, including links to the websites of each national/regional/local networks, clubs and/or associations of WBAs participating to the ECWBA, with a view to facilitating transnational cooperation.
The WEgate will create specific webpages for the ECWBA, which should then be populated by each consortium with information on its WBA Members, its objectives and activities and funding opportunities with a view to facilitating transnational community cooperation via the WEgate.
The ECWBA pages on the WEgate should aim at improving the collaboration, cooperation and sharing of best practices within the community. The applicants are invited to propose the most suitable and effective ways of implementing these objectives. Applicants are expected to include a detailed promotion, publicity and animation plan using WEgate as the main tool, as well as other social media.
The WEgate contractor will be responsible for determining the overall necessary features and functionalities and enable this integration.
Each consortium will be responsible for liaising with the e-platform and ensuring the linkage necessary to facilitate transnational cooperation (networking and community building between WBAs and WEs), as well as for the development and maintenance of their own websites.
In addition to this, the consortia should be prepared to integrate any other tools (e.g. webinars and events' calendar, Women Business Angels profiles and stories, use of social media) or activities in WEgate targeting WBAs or WEs.
The consortia are expected to collaborate with the e-platform in line with current best industry standards and to ensure long-term compatibility despite changing technologies to guarantee a responsive and user-friendly service.
WP4. Recruitment of WBAs
The consortia are expected to develop their WBAs recruitment strategy at local, regional or national level using- among other means- the WEgate, social media and other existing platforms.
They will have to set up transparent and efficient procedures to identiy and select WBAs, be willing to network and actively engage with WEs according to the defining criteria identified in the General objective section above.
The consortia are expected to put in place a new member sponsor recognition programme, and organise special information or welcoming days to attract new WBAs. A detailed recruitment plan for the WBAs should be provided with the proposal.
Moreover, each consortium should propose a strategy in their project proposal for recruiting as many new WBAs as possible in the countries they represent, with relative balance among the covered countries.
The consortia should ensure the cross-referencing to ECWBA from other existing social media platforms and relevant groups on LinkedIn and twitter accounts to promote and disseminate information on its activities, results and events.
Applicants should include in their proposal the method they plan to use for identifying and selecting WBAs from diverse backgrounds. For the purpose of this call WBAs will act on a voluntary basis, that is to say, they will not receive any remuneration.
WP5. Development and delivery of training and mentoring programs for the recruited WBAs and exchange of best practices
The provision of training and facilitation of peer-learning for Women Business Angels as well as sharing and exchanging best practices are seen as core issues for this call.
In order to recruit women business angels and enable them to actively invest, training and mentoring is considered crucial. The risk assessment of investment opportunities, as well as short term and long term asset management strategy should be clearly explained to recruited new WBAs. Targeted training supported by written material should be designed and delivered by the consortia for the newly recruited WBAs. Training should include investment-specific financial courses like financial analysis, risk analysis for investment, etc to facilitate new WBAs investments.
Furthermore, experienced business angels-men and women- should provide mentoring advice to new recruits and guide them during their first investments. It is expected that the successful consortia will dedicate substantial time for the development, improvement and delivery of training and mentoring programs for the countries they cover.
A detailed plan of development of training, peer-learning (mentoring) and exchange of training best practices for WBAs should be included in the proposal.
For both WP4 and WP5 the successful applicants should not limit the exchange of good practices only within the created consortia, but should also make connections and raise awareness with non ECWBA members, willing to create functioning initiatives with WBAs and WEs in other European countries.
WP6. Organisation of training on pitching and relevant business strategies for women entrepreneurs
Studies show that women entrepreneurs are facing difficulties accessing alternative sources of finance. Often this is linked to insufficient training on preparation for pitching events.
To this end, the delivery of pitching training and relevant business strategies for women entrepreneurs will enable more women to access business angels funding.
Successful applicants should therefore include a plan for the conception, organisation and delivery of training for women entrepreneurs seeking business angels funding, with focus on pitching presentations skills and relevant business strategies. To this end it is expected that applicants will collaborate with relevant women entrepreneurship stakeholders like chambers of commerce or women entrepreneurs association in order to attract WEs and deliver appropriate training. Experienced WBAs, part of the consortia, should assist in this training.
At least 2 trainings for pitching and relevant business strategies per year should be organised in each country covered by the consortium.
WP7. Organisation of pitching events
Investment opportunities for business angels are usually identified during pitching events with entrepreneurs.
Besides the mentoring and training activities, consortia should each organise at least 8 pitching events per year in the countries they cover, bringing together a substantial number of WBAs and entrepreneurs (with focus on WEs) seeking business angels funding. The
proposal should include a detailed plan of pitching-events and relevant activities which will be organised around these events in the countries covered by each consortium.
It is expected that the amount to be invested by all of the WBAs in each consortium for all pitching events under this project should be at least 5 times the amount of the relevant grant awarded by the Commission.
To this end applicants should include in their proposal a plan related to the events they will organise and the amounts that they estimate that will be invested by WBAs as a result of these pitching events.
WP8. Communication strategy
In order to recruit sufficient numbers of WBAs, publicise the consortium and the WBAs networks, as well as create investment opportunities, it is essential to publicise the created WBAs consortia.
Each consortium will be expected to produce a communication strategy in which it will describe promotional activities planned to be carried out to ensure visibility in each of the countries that it is covering. This strategy should include communication activities such as press releases, web links, web-seminars, pitching events, details of TV or radio programmes, web clips, press reviews, etc. The WEgate will be the main e-platform for communication activities on the web. Nevertheless, other types of communication activities with the target groups (WEs and potential WBAs) should also be included in the communications plan.
WBAs recruited by the consortia are expected to take part in conferences, workshops, discussion fora and other public events, as well as in web-seminars and e-events via the WEgate so as to promote the WBAs networks in the countries taking part in the consortia but also in other European countries where such networks are not sufficiently developed.
WP9. Exit strategy – Community cooperation and development sustainability
The ECWBA community that will be created by this call will be financed for 2 years by the EU through the Grant Agreements resulting from this call.
In order to ensure that the ECWBAs community will be active and sustainable after the end of the project, each consortium should present a strategy for ensuring continuous cooperation with other consortia within the frame of the ECWBA and the continuation of the established relations between the existing and new WBAs associations/networks/clubs, once EC funding is going to be over.
This strategy should explain how the consortia plan to stay in touch and empower further the created WBAs Community.
General remarks and final indications:
The above description of tasks should be considered as an indication of the type of activities that the Commission wishes to support and of desired results. It will be a responsibility of each applicant to propose the best ways to implement the call objectives and to create the consortium of Women Business Angels covering each at least 4 MS to achieve these results. Activities proposed in these technical specifications can be adapted and innovative solutions can be proposed, provided that the working method is well explained and justified, and that it will enable to achieve the goals set out in this call for proposals.
The duration of 24 months is proposed in order to provide sufficient time to engage and establish the European Community of Women Business Angels. This community should be sustainable after the termination of EU funding due to the direct interest that organisations involved have in the promotion of business angels and women entrepreneurship as part of their mission, and also thanks to its light structure. This network is a pilot initiative. The candidates should therefore clearly explain how they intend to sustain the network and provide a relevant detailed plan.
All in all, the success of this new initiative launched by the Commission will be measured by:
− the number of:
o NewWBAsnetworks/associations/clubscreatedatnationallevel; o NewWBAsrecruited;
− the quality and quantity of pitching events organised
− the amount invested by the WBAs during the project at the pitching events
− the number of WBAs attending the training and mentoring offered
− the quality of the training and mentoring offered
− the number of WEs attending the pitching events and relevant trainings
− the number of countries and regions covered by the consortium and the relevant European Added value
− any new and inspiring policy good practice in the area of Women Business Angels and /or support for Women Entrepreneurs that will be proposed and disseminated as a result of the various activities;
− the number of outreach activities (events organised or promoted – particularly on-line via the WEgate – and number of participants);
− the continuation of activities after the 2-year project and the end of EU funding (sustainability). Successful applicants are expected to report on the above indicators.
Applicants should explain clearly in their proposal, in particular under chapters on Impact and Sustainability, how they intend to make the activity a success according to the above criteria.