We are in 2019. The European Startup Ecosystem is now reaching maturity, more integrated and with more unicorns than ever, well-established startup hubs like London, Paris and Berlin, and those who are consolidating like Barcelona, Lisbon and Amsterdam. Yet, a key part of this ecosystem, a fundamental piece of society, has been left behind this startup boom: female entrepreneurs. I believe this is a fundamental contradiction. How can we consider that ecosystems are maturing when only 11.3% of VC-backed companies have female founders and only 30% of startup founders in Europe are women -the lowest in the world?

At EYIF we have supported women in entrepreneurship since our first steps integrating the European ecosystem back in 2012. It is time to go one step further and address one specific yet crucial challenge faced by female entrepreneurs in Europe: access to funding.

I am proud to announce the launch of the “Women in Entrepreneurship Roadshow” supported by the European Commission, Startup Europe, the US State Department and Amazon. A special mention goes to the US Mission to the EU who is showing leadership in reinforcing the transatlantic link by promoting entrepreneurship and innovation and more than 25 founding partners who will be contributing to this initiative in each country.

#WER19 aims to connect 300 high-potential female entrepreneurs with 30 US and European VCs to improve their access the finance. We also want to map the main challenges and obstacles that women entrepreneurs are facing in the entrepreneurial journey and facilitate the best practices from the US by working with existing national mentoring networks. Finally, we also want to raise awareness about these barriers and start building a consensus on which are the needed changes that must be implemented.

With #WER19, we will be visiting 10 cities in 2019, going from Madrid to Sofia, passing by Copenhagen, The Hague, Lisbon, Bucharest, Dublin, Berlin, Brussels, Vilnius, Budapest. We have an exciting year ahead where we want to have a concrete impact on the European Startup ecosystem by having equal opportunities and reinforcing gender-balance.

I think about Sheila Marcelo, Anne Glover, Neelie Kroes, who placed the first bricks in our journey and of course Ida Tin, Kristina Tsvetanova, Emerald de Leeuw or Aline Muylaert, entrepreneurs who we supported and whose amazing journey we keep following.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning. I make a call to all the partners who want to join our initiative, which is not only EYIF´s initiative, but a transatlantic and pan-european one.

Join us and be part of #WER19!

Nicholas Zylberglajt President of EYIF and founder and  COO of Unmanned Life.