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funding for women start-ups

Women start-ups suffering from lack of funding and acceleration networks

Most economists agree that there is an impressive potential in startups – not all become unicorns and some of them stay smaller companies but do represent a huge total of work opportunities and others grow to be big international companies within a limited number of years. But for women-led startups the funding and acceleration conditions are crucially imbalanced.

Female entrepreneurship is an “under-exploited source of economic growth”, that promises employment and innovation, according to a statement by the European Commission.

Looking at numbers, more can be done! Startup Heatmap’s latest research on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe shows 15.5% of entrepreneurs in Europe are female and women raise 38% less than men when starting up a company under the same conditions.


In top ecosystems like Berlin and London, less than one in five business founders are female, the Startup Heatmap says.

“Yes, many accelerators, funding calls and startup support programs try to appeal to female founders. But there is a deep, structural imbalance against female founders that makes it hard for them to succeed, even if they deliver the same quality of innovation and creativity as their peers.”

The Startup Heatmap is mapping startup ecosystems based on annual surveys of more than 1 000 participants. It is the product of the European Startup Initiative (ESI), a non-profit organization that aims at facilitating interaction between startup founders and stakeholders interested in creating an attractive startup environment in the European Union.

The Heatmap also surveys preferred locations. Tech hubs such as Stockholm, Vienna and Budapest perform better than their peers in attracting female entrepreneurship.

“This, by no means, happens to be pure luck. Startup hubs like Vienna manage to be good at building a female-friendly support network, attract a high percentage of female CEOs to business acceleration programs, and showcase positive role models for female founders.”


”We even found that in some accelerators in places like Finland or Ireland women actually succeeded to raise more funding than their male peers over a longer period of time. Meanwhile, in most accelerators male-led startups raise more funding than female-led startups.”

“There is a lack of VC (Venture Capital) funding to support female-led startups. Women-led startups tend to join accelerator programs 1 to 2 years later than their peers, and raise significantly less funding in their early stages. Female-led startups are 5 years behind their male-led peers, which means that their business models are less likely to grow fast in terms of economic growth and impact.”


The European Commission has stated that improving gender equality could generate 10.5 million jobs by 2050 and boost the EU economy with Euro 1.95 – 3.15 trilllion. Still, UNECO says worldwide female STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students only represent 35% of the total number of STEM students in higher education.

There is a lot to be done – for politicians, investors and accelerators.

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