On centre-stage: Some inspiring women entrepreneurs from Denmark
Denmark, a shining example of gender equality according to the World Economic Forum, boasts a progressive environment for women entrepreneurs. With a strong focus on work-life balance and generous parental leave, Danish women confidently pursue careers while raising families. Gender equality is deeply rooted in the Danish welfare state, recognizing the pivotal role of female entrepreneurship in driving economic development.
Embracing entrepreneurship brings a multitude of benefits for women, fostering organizational and leadership skills, igniting creativity, and empowering women to thrive. As Denmark’s entrepreneurship ecosystem flourishes, policymakers actively encourage the creation of new businesses and strive to attract more women to choose entrepreneurship as a fulfilling career path.
Despite these initiatives, the number of female entrepreneurs in Denmark remains relatively modest compared to male-owned businesses. However, there is a promising surge in women entrepreneurs, with one in four entrepreneurs being a woman in Denmark and neighboring countries. Danish women view entrepreneurs as positive role models for the youth, further nurturing the spirit of innovation and leadership among women.
Predominantly engaging in the services sector, Danish women entrepreneurs have proven to be enterprising serial entrepreneurs, taking on multiple ventures to create a lasting impact on economic growth and job opportunities.
Here, we delve into Denmark’s flourishing landscape for women entrepreneurs, exploring the country’s business potential, the initiatives driving growth, and the inspiring stories of women who are boldly leading the way in the world of entrepreneurship. Presenting some inspiring women entrepreneurs of Denmark, who are driving change and redefining opportunities for a gender-equal society and a thriving economy.
> Sara Kobli, Founder, COASTI
Sara Kobli, Founder, was actually inspired by her roots in Ivory Coast to form her company – COASTI, an organic beverages producer. The initiative here is zero waste – including food waste management in COASTI production process. Her focus is on transforming waste from the hibiscus drink production into the following by-products: syrup and jam.
She also makes sure that COASTI’s products are eco- friendly and are 100% made of organic ingredients. The choice of the elephant for COATI’s logo comes from it being a symbol of Ivory Coast, generally associated with strength and longevity.
> Sophie Trelles-Tvede, Co-founder, invisibobble
Sophie Trelles-Tvede is the co-founder of invisibobble and was named as one of Europe’s 30 greatest entrepreneur talents by Forbes, where she earned the 30 Under 30 Europe: Retail and E-Commerce prize.
This young entrepreneur has invented the hair elastic that looks like a telephone cord, and “Invisibobble” is the brand name. Success came early, at 17, when she earned her first million. And her inspiration? She was tired of rubber bands that always pulled her hair, whenever she took the elastic out of her hair!! Now her products are being sold in over 40 countries. With her father being a successful entrepreneur, she has also managed to follow his path – to achieve great success as a female entrepreneur.
> MetteLykke, 34, Denmark, Vice President, Under Armour
Strong business woman MetteLykke took a bold step, when she traded a comfortable position at the international consulting firm McKinsey for entrepreneurship. She and two business partners co-founded the fitness tracking app Endomondo in 2007 and, by 2014 had expanded the community-based venture – to reach 25 million users. As Chief Executive she successfully orchestrated the company’s acquisition for USD 85 million by the US-based athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour, where she is now Vice President.
She had earlier worked as a journalist and researcher for a major Danish daily newspaper, and later was recruited by McKinsey & Co as a management consultant. In 2012 she was granted the Founder of the Year award by the Nordic Start-up Awards series, which celebrates start up ecosystems based in the Nordics. And in 2013 she received the Female Business Owners’ Inspirational award.
> Frederikke Schmidt, Founder & Creative Director, roccamore
It was in 2014, that Frederikke Schmidt returned from Florence, having helped design shoes amongst other things, in the 1980s and 1960s. The Brand Roccamore is high- heeled shoes with focus on CSR and good comfort. Her shoes are produced exclusively from cowhides that come from the meat industry, and the color she gets from the various fashion houses’ leftovers. Thus, the color of the products can vary slightly, and all products come with a story! This idea has taken her company from selling 700 pairs of shoes in 2016 to daring to dream of a turnover of 100 million in 2021.
> Louise BrandstrupZastrow, CEO, Travel Kollekt
Louise BrandstrupZastrow, CEO of TravelKollekt is a successful self-made business woman. Having a wide, rich experience working on brands and concept development, she still found room to write multiple award-winning international books.
As a life-long traveller, her company focused on personalized travel books. The aim is – to create a better environment for travel planning, and acting responsibly by doing research and making individual choices.
She ensures that her company closely follows the guidelines and advice from the UNWTO and Tourism for SDG’s – on how to be a responsible traveller. In fact, they directly embed the responsible tourism manifesto from UNWTO into every book they create.
> Agnieszka Szwarczewska, CEO & Architect, Squarely
Agnieszka Szwarczewska, CEO and Architect, founded Squarely as a way to give people the true meaning of a well-balanced design for personal green space. It was after working seven years of working with sustainable buildings projects, that the idea came to her.
Admiring Danish Design, she went ahead to combine their traditional values with innovative thinking and sustainable mind-set. Squarely products are mainly – self- watering planters, made from sustainable hardwood. And, the products allow their consumers to enjoy healthy, fresh plants all year round.
Knowing how much material sourcing impacts our environment, she made a huge effort to produce quality plant sets from products used for another purpose. This innovative approach of recycling and turning obsolete products into beautiful ornaments, truly shows her commitment to sustainability.