Digital entrepreneurship tools and support for women entrepreneurs



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Digital entrepreneurship tools and support for women entrepreneurs | Tools für digitales Unternehmertum und Unterstützung für Unternehmerinnen | Инструменти за цифрово предприемачество и подкрепа за жени предприемачи | Alati za digitalno poduzetništvo i podrška poduzetnicama | Ψηφιακά εργαλεία επιχειρηματικότητας και υποστήριξη για γυναίκες επιχειρηματίες | Strumenti di imprenditorialità digitale e sostegno alle donne imprenditrici | Digitālās uzņēmējdarbības rīki un atbalsts sievietēm uzņēmējām | Інструменти цифрового підприємництва та підтримка жінок-підприємців

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National Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and Women Entrepreneurs

Impact Measurement – Results of the online survey with digitalization experts

Conclusions from the Local Roundtables with Stakeholders

National Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and Women Entrepreneurs

In recent years, the percentage of women starting their own businesses has risen steadily in Austria. Currently, about 45% of new companies are founded by women.

Increasing the number of female entrepreneurs in general is a determined goal of Austrian policy.
In order to make it easier for women to start up their own businesses, special funding programmes have been set up to provide competent, women-specific advice for women entrepreneurs and to make it easier for women to become self-employed.

Examples are:

·         Startup programmes from Public Employment Service (with special focus and services for female founders). Services are: consultations, trainings, financial grant

·         Coaching programmes for female Founders

·         Mentoring programmes

·         Financial grants

·         Microcredit offers

Enclosed are some facts from a study (IMAS 2019) regarding self employment in Austria and gender typical differences:

·         The fact is that the trend towards self-employment in Austria cannot be attributed to one gender, because almost as many women as men start a business. However, it is characteristic of female entrepreneurs that they start up later, less risky and the companies last longer.

·         The greatest gender-specific differences exist in the motives for founding a business. 23% of female entrepreneurs in Austria strive for greater flexibility in order to be able to better reconcile family and career, for only 13% of men was this a decisive factor in their founding. The majority of men (45%) focus on higher earnings and self-determination, while this was a reason for founding a business for only 31% of women entrepreneurs.

·         15% of women see professional know-how as a hurdle, while only 9% of men consider this to be a difficulty.

·         Less than 30% of female founders place particular emphasis on digitalization (men 44%)

All analyses regarding bureaucratic and institutional hurdles for female and male founders in Austria show that these are similar. The hurdles for women starting their own business lie much more in socio-political issues or are a strong socialisation issue.

As the core of the obstacles is more social and often also psychological, measures are needed at different levels to address them. Therefore, relevant stakeholders in Austria are increasingly trying to take appropriate measures and start at a very early stage of life to help break down stereotypical images of women and men and enable real equality.  To generate enthusiasm for the topic of entrepreneurship, there are a number of playful options that can be used as early as kindergarten or primary school. It is important to show role models to create a better understanding of women as entrepreneurs and to give this job profile a positive connotation.

According to a survey, about half (16%) as many women as men (35%) say they will need financing to start a business in the future, mostly because they start smaller businesses. Men tend to go into self-employment with a more courageous attitude and plan for more financing volume right away. Last but not least, this high difference also results from the different branches focused by the genders.

In fact women usually start with less equity capital than men. This is due to the fact that they often worked in sectors where they earned less or have often only worked part-time or were unable to work due to childcare periods.

Experts also recommend improving the financial education of women. Because gaps in knowledge not only have a negative impact on private pension provision, they also impair career opportunities - when it comes to starting one's own business, for example.

A special situation exists in the area of funding through business angels and venture capital: access to funding is still a problem for many women-led start-ups.  Here a statement by a female founder about this issue: "How money is distributed, especially in a small country like Austria, is through connections. For women, it is of course much more difficult to get into these male-dominated connections."

While the number of female-led businesses in Austria has risen in recent years, the longer term impact of the pandemic is yet to be known. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index suggests that, when it comes to gender equality, Covid-19 may push progress back a generation, with women disproportionately responsible for childcare and household chores.

Especially when it comes to reconciling family and professional activities, all studies show that women are still far more burdened than men. That's why women often start self-employment only as an alternative to a part-time job. However, the lower income expectations associated with the entrepreneurial risk also result in lower pension contributions and thus the risk of possible old-age poverty. A further planned expansion of childcare facilities and an improvement of this offer would improve the professional situation of women in general, but also relieve the burden on women entrepreneurs in particular. 


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Impact Measurement – Results of the online survey with digitalization experts






Christian Toller



Gerlinde Götz



Elisabeth Tiefenthaler



 Johann Weber



Lio Paier



The five trainer (three women, two men) were already involved in the development of the content in IO3 and gave their feedback on the developed curriculum.

All stated that the training developed for digital experts will ultimately have a positive impact on the work with the target group and help to act more successfully.

The importance of such digitalization training for women entrepreneurs was ranked between important (2) and very important (3)

Only one expert has so far participated in a similar, specific training (designed to support work with women entrepreneurs) – Preparation Program for being Mentor in a Professional Women Network Mentoring Program

A similar training in digitalization has from none of them yet been offered explicitly for women entrepreneurs.

Regarding question 5 reduction of time: 4 trainers ranked savings between 26-50%, 1 between 1-25%.

Regarding question 6: reduction of costs: 2 trainers ranked savings between 26-50%, 3 between 1-25%.

Regarding question 7 increasing of revenues:  3 trainers ranked increasing between 26-50%, 2 between 1-25%.

Regarding question 8:  investment and profitability - following key statements were made

·         The extent to which women entrepreneurs benefit from digitalization depends very much on the business, i.e. the industry and the target group.

·         The first steps towards digitalization are generally seen as an additional expense (possibly costs for software systems, but above all the time required for conversion and learning the digital tools). I.e. the benefit should always be considered in the long term. However, these steps are unavoidable for sustainable growth.

·         If investments and training are strategically planned and a step-by-step plan defines exactly what is to be implemented and when, it will always pay off

The benefit can also lie in the increased quality of life.


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Conclusions from the Local Roundtables with Stakeholders

The Round Table was conducted in form of an online meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions.  The 10 participants represented different kind of stakeholders: Chamber of Commerce Styria, Women in Business Styria, Public Employment Service Carinthia, Funding Agencies (SfG, WA Wien), Women Networks (Female Founders, BIC, Frauen Business Center), Training and Consulting Companies in the field of start-ups (ÖSB Consulting, Ideentriebwerk)

The Erasmus+ project DIGI Women and the outputs developed so far were presented. The following questions were discussed and the main conclusions summarized.

How the Curriculum will be best used in a way that it is effective in raising the capacity of digitalization experts to support women entrepreneurs in improving their sustainability

There are already various consulting and training activities to support start-ups and SMEs. Several companies and experts have specialised in the field of trainings for entrepreneurs. In programmes of some funding agencies, the contracted experts have to present special qualification certificates. (e.g. Startup Programme from Public Employment Service: Gender and Diversity training - min 16h). It can be considered to define (parts of) the developed training as quality standards in funded support programmes.

Therefore it is necessary to create an appropriate offer for participation in such training. The Chamber of Commerce, as the representative body for consultants and trainers, could include this training in its range of further education courses. Our developed curriculum could also be integrated as a special module in Train-The-Trainer courses offered by different training institutions. In order to motivate trainers to participate in this training, it is important that they can generate added value for themselves as well - this benefit for the trainer must be communicated to them.

The expected impact on the businesses of women entrepreneurs

Digitalization affects all areas of life today, and for small businesses in particular it can also open up new business opportunities. Women in particular often need to catch up here, which is why appropriate training in this field is so important. In general, trainings should not only contribute to the acquisition of subject-specific contents. The exchange with other participants should also lead to new contacts and informal learning. It is often more difficult for women than for men to build up appropriate networks. By taking part in training course, there is also the opportunity to make contacts for possible cooperation and to see how other entrepreneurs with similar problems act. In order to respond appropriately to the target group, the trainers must know the needs and expectations and also be able to communicate in a way that is appropriate for the target group. If these requirements fulfilled, the participants can adopt the knowledge that suits for them and put it into practice in their company. The curriculum takes into account the specific needs of women entrepreneurs and is therefore ideally suited to support the target group

How it can help supporting organization and policy makers to improve the situation of women entrepreneurs in general and women facing difficult circumstances but also SME’s in general

A training program that addresses the specific needs of female entrepreneurs is also a sign that this target group is struggling with problems that men do not have and that are often not perceived by society. This can also bring general problems of this target group back into focus and help to discuss socio-political solutions (e.g. lower incomes and thus lower pensions later on).


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Last change: 12/29/22.