A new project has kicked off to address the under-representation of women in entrepreneurship and leadership positions in Europe.
The EIT and EY (formerly Ernst & Young) have joined forces to run a series of women leadership and entrepreneurship workshops. Three dynamic business women, Dr Emese Várnagy, Dorka Hovath and Virág Réti, were invited to provide inspiration and role models to girls aged between 12 and 18 years old who are interested in technology and the start-up world.
Speaking before the event, Martin Kern, EIT Interim Director, said, ‘The women leadership and entrepreneurship workshop project for girls is a great example of how to empower amazing talent and innovative minds – Europe needs more women in leadership positions and women entrepreneurs to grow! The largest untapped entrepreneurial and leadership potential in Europe is women. Women constitute 52% of the European population but only 30% of entrepreneurs and only 32% of economic leaders. We need to change this and one of the keys to changing this is entrepreneurial and leadership education.’
Dr Emese Várnagy, CEO of IVM Co., began the day with a discussion that used her background in phsychology to understand the difficulties young women can face when getting started in business. She said 'I've researched how people become good managers. It's not genetic or inherited. So what kind of features do we have that we can develop? Women have a lot to overcome, but we can use our strengths to fight prejudices. Weakness is managed by fear, and we have to realise that and use it to fight back.'
Next to pass on the benefit of her experience was Dorka Hovath, CEO and Co-founder of BOOKR Kids. After the event, Dorka mentioned that her inspiration was her parents, both of whom are entrepreneurs, with her mother owning a boutique publishing company. 'But I've also had older women friends, and it was always really inspiring to talk with older women who had experience and could give feedback. Building a company is really good. Really hard work, but the effort is worthwhile.'
The event ended with Virág Réti, CEO and Co-founder of Cabsolutely, who described her journey to designing an app to transform cab-sharing. 'I tried out several ideas to start a business, but it was a chance meeting at an airport that gave me the idea for Cabsolutely. You never know where inspiration will come from.'
The last word goes to a young participant who, when asked what she would take away from the workshop, said, 'Keep trying. Never give up.' And her role model? 'My mum.'
Empowering women is central to the EIT’s work in encouraging entrepreneurship & leadership for the benefit of Europe.
Two follow-up events to be held in Budapest have been organised with women entrepreneurs and innovators who can bring the world of business to life. Watch the EIT website and our social media channels for more information!
Parents and teachers are also invited to join, and the talks are given in Hungarian.
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