In the spirit of empowering women leaders in Europe’s social enterprise sector and accelerating progress towards a more gender-equal world, EN launched on International Women’s Day – March 8th – the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise 2023 list.
EN’s third annual list honors women trailblazers who are helping to shape the European social enterprise ecosystem and leading it into the mainstream. The list is based on more than 900 answers from an open nomination call and an assessment by our esteemed jury.
The list’s launch was celebrated in a webinar to spotlight and learn more about the impact journeys of women in social enterprise and gain insights into the remaining barriers women in the social enterprise sector are experiencing. Some of our key insights from our incredible guest speakers were:
Natalie Laechelt from the OECD – OCDE highlighted that despite the social enterprise sector being constituted mostly by women, they still experience:
– a lack of visibility;
– persistent gender gaps and stereotypes;
– access to funding and tailored training remain challenges for women in the social enterprise sector.
The social enterprise ecosystem needs to become more inclusive of people with disabilities, stressed Chrysella Lagaria – founder of Black Light | The blind side of view – “We don’t see many blind people as decision makers in social enterprise but at Black Light, the opposite happens”.
Regita Zeiļa from the Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia (Latvijas Sociālās uzņēmējdarbības asociācija) underlined the importance of support networks for social enterprises and women supporting one another, to pave the way towards a more gender equal world where social entrepreneurship is on top of the agenda.
Azza ELHayek shared her challenges in founding a social enterprise as a women immigrant trying to establish herself in the European social enterprise ecosystem. She successfully co-founded SkillLab to provide equal opportunities for all job seekers by uncovering pathways to social and economic participation through partnership-enabled education and employment.
Cornelia Grosser from DG EMPL at the European Commission (EC) spotlighted how the EC supports women social entrepreneurs through policy action and finance, as well as enhancing women entrepreneurship by promoting the presence of women in the decision-making of the funds into which the EIF invests in.
Liza Belozerova highlighted the need to break down entry barriers and provide equitable access for all: “We’ve seen that when people don’t have networks and personal relations, they often are left out of funding – and this disproportionately affects women.” As such, Google. org supports programs that provide access to capital and tailored training for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, amongst others, through #SocialTides powered by INCO supported by EN.