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There could not be a more appropriate day to announce the launch of a new European project to increase the share of female graduate entrepreneurs. On International Women’s Day 2021, Dutch partners of the Women Entrepreneurs in Regional Inclusive Ecosystems (WeRin) project, University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN), the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Impact Hub Amsterdam announce their ambition to make entrepreneurship education and support programmes more inclusive.
Given that women represent about 60% of the HEI graduates, their under-representation amongst start-ups is a very clear challenge. Despite a rise in participation of female students in entrepreneurship education at Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s), they still lag behind compared to their male counterparts. Even when they have participated in entrepreneurship education, they are less likely to move towards actual entrepreneurial careers after they graduate. And when they do, these graduate female entrepreneurs are less well embedded in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem: fewer of them participate in local incubation and acceleration programmes, seek and receive funding and are active in regional enterprise networks.
A pioneering European initiative, WeRIn, led by Muenster University of Applied Sciences in Germany, brings together 14 partners from 6 countries. Funded by the ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliance programme for a three-year timeframe, WeRIn partners have ambitious plans to enhance the inclusivity of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems and embeddedness of female entrepreneurs therein, through the design of more inclusive academic and non-academic entrepreneurship education and support programmes.
Parties can get involved and benefit from WeRIn in all sorts of ways. Dr Ingrid Wakkee, the AUAS-wide Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and scientific director of the AUAS Venture Center states: “It is an exciting time to put the spotlight on increasing the share of female graduate entrepreneurs. WeRIn is packed with opportunities for other teachers, policy makers, funding bodies and bodies working to increase the number of female (but also non-binary!) entrepreneurs. Over the next three years, we will work on profiling good practices, on a needs analysis, regional reports on the current state of gender inclusiveness will be published and various local and European think tanks will be organised”.
Tatiana Glad, co-founder and director of Impact Hub Amsterdam: “Together with our EU colleagues, we want to make an impact. We aim to increase women’s participation in entrepreneurship education by 15% and by 20% in non-education-driven entrepreneurship support programmes in the region within three years of the completion of the project. To achieve this, together with our consortium partners in Europe, we want to develop a WeRLearnIn Principles, a WeRIn Toolbox, and a Knowledge Portal, but also organise International Capacity Building Sessions and Communities of Practice. Our project title could not be more appropriate – We R In is more than just a letter of intent”.
Arno Meerman, founder and director of UIIN is equally committed to unlocking one of the largest potential drives of economic growth: Female Entrepreneurship. He says: “through the WeRIn project we will support universities in developing a more inclusive approach to educating and supporting student and graduate entrepreneurs”.
Sue Rossano-Rivero, Junior Professor at the Fachhochschule Münster and lead partner of the Project WeRIn has great ambitions “It is about making sure that everyone feels invited to be an entrepreneur and that students (male, female, non-binary) are aware of entrepreneurship as a career perspective. This requires inclusive entrepreneurship education and ecosystems accessible to everyone”.
Want to know more about or join WeRIn?