In focus: Policies, schemes and programmes for women entrepreneurs in Austria
Vienna, the capital of Austria was named as one of the best places for women founders by the Startup Heatmap in 2019. Women lead around 40% of Austrian companies, and in the startup scene, over 35% are founded by teams that include women.
The surge in women entrepreneurship is because firstly, Vienna makes the extra effort to promote women in leadership positions. Associations like at the Vienna Business Agency, provide offers tailored to encourage female leadership. This goes from women-specific funding opportunities to any additional support for any project or businesses where women are in charge.
Over the last decade, women have made significant headway in the field of entrepreneurship. And, there is still a long way to go. But what is clear is that targeted, well-structured support programmes for female entrepreneurs keep popping up in Austria and internationally – that help to provide women with the training, support, and network they need to be successful. For women looking out to start their own business, they can visit ViennaUP’22 from May 30 to June 2, 2023 – to get solutions.
Here are some schemes, initiatives and associations targeting women entrepreneurs in Austria.
> Women Startups
Austria has the highest share of women startups in the EU. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Economy (BMAW) had surveyed the financing situation of women startups for Austria and Europe and discussed that at 36 percent, Austria currently has the highest proportion of female startups in the EU.
The report of the Startup Center at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) “Female Startups & Investing” provided results on the status and development of the financing situation of female startups in Austria and Europe. Female Entrepreneurship is also one of the central topics of the Startup Council of the BMAW.
> Austria wants to provide more support for startups, especially managed by women
At Austria, they are committed to strengthening women as founders through a wide variety of measures via our funding agencies – aws and FFG. The promotional bank of the Austrian federal government, Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws), and the funding agency Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), offer funding specifically for female startup founders.
Austria has the Highest Share of Female Startups in the EU – Vindobona.org | Vienna International News
> Range of Policies & Programmes
Overall, the entrepreneurship conditions are similar to most of the European Union (EU)
A wide range of entrepreneurship policies and programmes are in place – to support new and actual entrepreneurs. Majority of these entrepreneurship initiatives support the acquisition of entrepreneurship skills and also improve access to start-up finance.
However, few of these schemes are tailored to meet the unique needs of specific population groups, and the most significant gap in the entrepreneurship support schemes is dedicated support for senior entrepreneurs.
While most potential entrepreneurs – including those from groups that are under- represented or disadvantaged in entrepreneurship – can access comprehensive and high quality entrepreneurship schemes, there is scope for strengthening the suite a support by improving the cohesion and quality of schemes, and better addressing the needs of some population groups by:
> Developing entrepreneurship strategies to guide and link national action plans for target groups such as women and immigrants; o Offering more tailored support for senior entrepreneurs;
> Providing diversity training to entrepreneurship programme managers and front- line support staff; and
> Improving the collection of information on programme participation and report more regularly on take-up and outcomes at disaggregated levels.
Other Links: https://www.ffg.at/en/startups
> Many platforms available
There are several platforms and networking groups for women in business:
> Frau in der Wirtschaft (Women in Business) is a national organization that acts as a network, interest group, and a service center, all in one.
> Frau &Arbeit (Woman & Work) is a service center in Salzburg that helps women find employment. They also offer workshops and consultancy for women planning to start their own businesses.
> Gründerinnenzentrum N4 (The Female Founder Centre N4) is a networking resource run by the province of Styria.
> The UnternehmerinnenNetzwerk is a regional network of female businesswomen in lower Austria. It holds regular networking events, meetings, and lectures.
> TatenstattWorte (Action Instead of Words) is a non-profit that aims to improve the working environment of women with an emphasis on reinforcing female entrepreneurship.
> The Professional Women’s Network (PWN) in Vienna is all about gender balance in leadership. The network not only encourages women in business but also offers a Global Entrepreneurship Program.
> Frauen-business is an online platform that provides information on seminars and events for networking in the world of work.
> Female Leader Initiative is an independent network of women, created by female leaders, with affiliates in 95 countries. They aim to help highly qualified women in Styria get into leadership positions and networks.
> Business Professional Women has ten regional clubs throughout Austria and holds events.
> Female Founders
Female Founders was launched in 2016, by three successful women entrepreneurs – to help women set up their own businesses. Female Founders has become the leading eco- system for entrepreneurial women.
The Female Founders group aims to support women entrepreneurs and give them the contacts and know-how they need to start their own companies. It runs regular networking events and plans to launch a mentoring programme and online platform connecting female entrepreneurs, investors and the media.
This is a community of women committed to lifting other women up in a number of ways –through building connections, sharing skills and knowledge and empowering individuals to reach their goals. And, this is done through – facilitating events, workshops and the spread of information that are catered towards the specific challenge’s women face in business and building on the qualities they need to be successful. With the unique programmes lik e- Base F, Grow F, and Lead F – there are three different options for women leaders with business mindsets at all different stages in their careers to get involved and become part of the community.
> Women’s Rights Organizations in Austria
There are several women’s rights organizations in Austria that aim to support and advise women throughout the country. Here are some of the main ones:
- UN Women National Committee – a resource for working women in Austria
- Austrian Women’s Shelter Network (AÖF) – a network of 15 women’s shelters in
- Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) – a network of NGOs working in the field
of combating violence against women and children
> Women in Business
Since 1983, Women in Business has been the contact partner within the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber for 100,000 female entrepreneurs in Austria.
Women in Business is the service centre, the representation of interests, and the network on a Federal level as well as in the nine provincial organisations. As a service centre, Women in Business offers information on current topics in the quarterly periodical ‘unternehmerin’ (The Female Entrepreneur) and, in the virtual mode, on the web site www.unternehmerin.at, as well as tailor-made seminars for women in the domains of training and advanced education. ‘Unternehmerin’ offers information on current topics and a lot of practical advice for female entrepreneurs.
As a representation of interests, Women in Business supports the improvement of the general framework for female entrepreneurs. The introduction of the ‘Betriebshilfe’ (business continuation aide) throughout Austria, where as a relief for small companies a qualified replacement for the entrepreneur is made available temporarily, if she becomes unfit for work in the event of an accident or during maternity leave, etc. With this service the entrepreneur’s living can be secured.
The Good Practices Database is developed following the methodology of Women in Business project for analyzing, selecting, describing and evaluating of Good Practices (GPs).
Women in Business aims to develop, through a mutual learning process, innovative training models which will be the main tool for fostering young women entrepreneurship (YWE) and will be the main part of the Women Entrepreneurship Centers. On the other hand, the validated GPs will serve as a ground for development of the Policy Agenda with policy recommendations.
The Database outlines the methodology followed by all PPs for identification, selection and describing of GPs for YWE support in the 9 PPs countries – Austria, Bosna and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovenia. It provides a short description of all 43 GPs for YWE support evaluated by project partners (PPs).
> US Embassy in Vienna
US Embassy in Vienna – offers two most important programs for start-ups: “Austria to Austin,” and the “SelectUSA Tech Investment Summit.”
At the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, they are specifically targeting female-led entrepreneurs for the two most important programs for start-ups: “Austria to Austin,” and the “SelectUSA Tech Investment Summit.”
> “Austria to Austin,” is a student startup exchange program, which sponsors Austrian students between the ages of 18-28 for an immersive experience in the U.S. startup and entrepreneurship scene. This year they have another class of 20 dynamic entrepreneurs from Austria — 50% of them women.
> “Select Global Women in Tech” is a mentorship program launched by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in 2021 to help international female founders overcome the unique challenges they face in fundraising, scaling, and promoting their businesses in the United States. This is a major step towards strengthening transatlantic cooperation to drive inclusive innovation.
> Recently U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo launched another programme – “Empower HER”– a joint initiative with the American Chambers of Commerce in Europe to promote and empower women’s advancement in international trade, which will include Austria as well.
PWN Vienna is an international, inclusive, welcoming community of professionals and entrepreneurs, women and men of all sectors and industries with one goal in mind – to achieve gender balanced leadership in business and society.
What do they offer?
>>Networking: to connect with like-minded people from across the globe at our events or, if you are a premium member, through our global platform
>>Mentoring Program: to reach your professional goals
>>Monthly Events: open to everyone, to develop your knowledge and skills and be inspired
>>Scholarships and Special offers for premium members
>>Connect Magazine their own online magazine
>>Forum and Online library of webinars and publications available to premium members
> Business Professional Women
This is one of the most influential international networks of business and professional women with affiliates in 95 countries across five continents. The aim of BPW is – to enable women to sustain themselves economically. In addition, BPW offers personal development programs for members such as mentoring, leadership training and e- Business training. Their projects aim to protect female rights, help them to overcome their limitations, and create a nurturing environment for development.
Founded in 2014, WINGS is an international project co-financed by the European Commission. Their main goal is – to unite initiatives undertaken by female entrepreneurs and provide them with a European network for those who want to support or be engaged in female entrepreneurial activities.
WINGS builds effective and efficient female entrepreneurship ecosystems, as well as supporting and integrating sustainable entrepreneurship programs. It is an excellent tool for women – those who are planning to start a business and for those who already have one and want to network and meet more people or mentors who can help them develop and grow their venture through events, online courses and more.
The online platform is very user-friendly and even allows you to create your own personal online shop in easy-to-follow steps. It also contains a vast quantity of mentors around Europe that you can contact for free.