By Jose Vilagran (UIIN)
On October 18th, 2021 the WeRin consortium met to celebrate the occasion of the WeRin International Think Tank and to discuss the insights from the investigation phase of the project, both at a regional and international level. The event took place in a blended format over the course of one and a half days and gathered around 30 representatives from all partner organizations.
Representatives were divided between two groups: those attending online and those who met physically in the facilities of one of our partner institutions, the University of Zagreb. The event kicked off with the members of the consortium presenting the results from SWOT analyses that they had conducted for each of their regions, namely Zagreb, Croatia; North Rhine Westphalia, Germany; Cork, Ireland; Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, the Netherlands; and Istanbul, Turkey. The results of the investigation shared many similarities across the different countries and evidenced common international needs such as better support structures and networks for female entrepreneurship, more clear and relatable role models, as well as an earlier implementation of entrepreneurship in education, among others. More information on the analysis can be found in the article “WeRin Regional Scans”
Reaching a common understanding
The presentations were followed by a workshop facilitated by UIIN – one of our Dutch partners – that was tailored to guide the participants towards the identification and development of potential solutions to the complex issues that pose an obstacle to the inclusivity of regional entrepreneurship ecosystems and the equality of female entrepreneurs. From the beginning, the workshop was all handson deck. Partners worked collaboratively on a variety of exercises carefully prepared to enable brainstorming and to distil these ideas, as well as lessons learned during the regional scans, through the funnel of the consortium, with the ultimate goal of reaching a consensus on the key issues faced by women in entrepreneurship across Europe.
The solution phase was the most collaborative part of the International Think Tank since it required participants to brainstorm together in teams within a very limited timeframe, which urged them to put focus on relevant and tangible solutions. The workshop concluded with each team presenting their solution concepts to the rest of the consortium. Conceived solutions included: the creation of a handbook or toolkit to help women entrepreneurs grow their investment literacy, tackle the gendered funding gap that exists in entrepreneurship or; to train women entrepreneurs in self-promotion to help break down the narrative that the entrepreneurship ecosystem is a male space. This helped to generate a shared vision of the key issues and the most interesting solutions found by the participants before continuing to pursue the objectives of the project. The International Think Tank, thus, set a successful example of what would be taking place roughly a month from that day: the period during which partners would host their Local Think Tank events. Comforted by the feeling of being able to perceive and understand the progress of the project up to that date, the partners came away from the event with renewed energy and motivation, prepared to take the next steps towards achieving the overarching goal of empowering educators and entrepreneurship support program managers as facilitators of a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.