FREEDA (Female entREprEneurship Development and Accompanying program) is an entrepreneurship accompanying program aiming at supporting the startup of an entrepreneurship experience, with specific focus on women entrepreneurship . We will apply an extremely practical and tested approach, aimed at transferring to participants the key skills to quickly assess and startup an entrepreneurial venture.
One Page Summary
Target. Even though there are more women than men in Europe, female entrepreneurs represent only a third of the self-employed in the EU. Women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. Female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an under-exploited source of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed.
We carefully analyzed the current employment/unemployment statistics in Bologna metropolitan area. It emerged some severe gender issues:
• The unemployment rate is higher among female: 22% in 18-29 age segments;
• NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in Bologna metropolitan area are higher among females: over 62% overall, with higher share in ages segments 35-44 and 55-64;
• Only 22% of companies are managed by women (8.119), most part of them are active in trade (i.e. shops), other services activities and real estate.
There is then a clear gender gap in accessing working and entrepreneurship opportunities. The target of our project will be then unemployed Female population in Bologna metropolitan area, with specific focus on following age segments: 18-29, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54. The focus of our entrepreneurial support program will be on services and trade sectors.
The solution. According to the European Commission , when establishing and running a business, women face challenges such as: access to finance; access to information; training; access to networks for business purposes; reconciling business and family concerns.
FREEDA (Female entREprEneurship Development and Accompanying program) is an entrepreneurship accompanying program aiming at supporting the startup of an entrepreneurship experience, with specific focus on women entrepreneurship. FREEDA will be structured along a period of 6 month.
1. FREEDA will start with a full day fully addressing the discovery of skills of participants. We will apply a well tested approach based on design thinking techniques. We will use the “Personal business model canvas”, which has the purpose to help people in redesigning their professional career.
2. We will then run a two days, full time workshop in which we will apply “lean startup” techniques, that is a methodology aimed at validating business ideas before the go to market phase starts. This approach allows to lower the risk and costs related to new business ventures and drive entrepreneurial team in addressing specific requirements coming from the market. We will ask participants to propose ideas and to form teams, that will work together for the whole duration of the training course.
3. Once the business ideas and the team will be defined, the accompanying program will start. We will structure the programme along 4 full days to be spread into two weeks. Training modules will enclose:
• Day 1: Value proposition and market analysis:
• Day 2: Communication and prototyping.
• Day 3: Project management, budget, financial and taxes, fundraising.
• Day 4: Pitching.
For each module, a dedicate on-line training course resources will be setup, so that trainees can retrieve main contents of the course when they want/need. Testimonials will be invited as guest speakers to share their experience with trainees.
4. At the end of the training course, a final event will be organised. The teams will pitch their ideas in front of a jury: the 3 best team will receive a prize (prizes will be agreed with Fondazione Gramen: i.e. resources to start their business idea, coworking spaces, marketing budget, consulting and mentorship…). We will also plan paid internship (i.e. €460/month) for 3 top participants.
5. During the subsequent period the teams will receive further mentorship support from idea-re team, while internships will be supported through focused coaching activities.
In order to increase the impact of the project we will open the testimonials session to wider audience and will make public and free of charge the on-line resources for the project period.
Similar initiatives. Several events, workshops and training programmes addressing entrepreneurship education have been organised in Italy: i.e Startup Weekend, Lean Startup Machine, Startup schools, etc. However, once the workshop ends, the team does not receive any further support to launch their business venture and team simply stop working on the idea. Other initiatives have been organised in Emilia Romagna and Bologna Metropolitan area Startcup Emilia Romagna, has the purpose to support the launch of startup with high growth potential; Incredibol (Bologna’s Creative Innovation) is a project aiming at promoting creative and cultural activities in the Emilia-Romagna region. None of these initiatives is targeting women unemployed or NEET willing to start an entrepreneurial activity.
We already tested FREEDA methodology with workshops (we facilitated over 100 people in 2017) and on-line courses (500 subscribers).