Supporting Female Entrepreneurship in Switzerland

The Swiss startup scene is predominantly male and its visual culture correspondingly macho (think heropreneurs, rockets and mountaineers). All the more surprising then that Annina Menzi and the team at Future.preneurship have consistently attracted significantly more females than males into it’s entrepreneurship program. Researchers at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW have taken a closer look at the Future.preneurship case to better understand what factors influence a female’s decision to work at and/or found a start up.

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Management Summary of the Study

The terms entrepreneurship and start-ups gained a lot of popularity in the last decade. There are studies concerning entrepreneurial activities in different countries. It is shown that disparities between countries exist. Apart from this, worldwide and especially in Swit- zerland, the gap between companies founded by male and companies founded by female is significant. This paper aims to identify reasons and drivers of females to be active in the entrepreneurial field and to become a founder.

The programme Future.preneurship, which combines an internship in a start-up and a 8 weeks long training, attracted repeated more female than male participants. Therefore, there were questionnaires and interviews conducted in order to identify factors that firstly, attract females to enter the start-up world and innovation scene and secondly, aspects that hinder or encourage women to found their own company.

The questionnaire covers topics about the motivation, satisfaction of the programme as well as the attractiveness of different future professional paths. Both genders rated with over 80% that the motivational drivers in general were gaining experience, getting to know and trying out. The biggest difference was seen when it comes to the topic of salary – as a motivational factor and the satisfaction of it.

Both genders state the professional future in a start-up as attractive. For females, being an employee in a start-up is perceived more attractive than for men. The biggest differ- ence is seen in a career in public administration / academia which appeals to man, not at all to women. This paper also evaluates the progress in skills of the participants.

The conducted interviews were clearly targeting the questions regarding females and founding. In the small sample of interviewees, the statements were related. It was that females tackle the topic of founding a company differently. For women, many more fac- tors must be right in order to take the step and start their own project. These factors in- clude the business idea itself and aspects in the end give the perception of high security concerns.

Based on the mentioned outcomes of the questionnaire as well as the interviews, there are recommendations taken. These recommendations concern the ecosystem including incubators, universities as well as other entrepreneurs. They aim helping to encourage more women in Switzerland to start an adventure as a self-employed entrepreneur.

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