Encouragement of female entrepreneurs in Germany

In Germany, women at all levels are encouraged to strengthen their self-image and create a strong entrepreneurial culture. This article gives some examples of modern women’s advancement.

Success is character-bound, but no gender-specific attribute – and every person can acquire valuable skills. So why not ensure equal opportunities?

Start-up support for women

Promoting entrepreneurial achievement

In order to create better conditions for women to start their own businesses, various projects were launched in Germany. This is because the proportion of business start-ups by women, measured in terms of the total number of all start-ups in Germany, is still rather small. The results of many studies show that women are also able to found a company successfully.

Women are clearly under-represented in the natural sciences, especially when it comes to start-ups. In order to promote gender equality, not only the state but also numerous foundations, non-profit organisations and associations as well as universities have developed support programmes specifically for women.

Companies are increasingly changing their HR strategies

The notorious but also infamous quota for women’s and men’s equality in management positions came into force in May 2015 and has been binding since January 2016 for all stock market-oriented companies whose supervisory boards are composed of half of shareholders and half of employees. When new members are appointed to the Supervisory Board, those companies must reach a women’s quota of thirty percent, otherwise the position in question will remain vacant. Thus, the company suffers a clear disadvantage in case of non-compliance.

The advantages of the women’s quota cannot be overlooked: on the one hand, social justice is improved, and on the other hand, human capital is used far more effectively if more women pursue careers.
Even investors are increasingly positive about the presence of women in decision-making bodies. It is generally assumed that companies that promote equal opportunities also have better employees[1]. Thus economic aspects are certainly given!

On the other hand, on the negative side, companies with a women’s quota appear to be more attractive for the female gender, but they provide a subjectively perceived feeling of disadvantage for men. In addition, women who have been given their jobs on the basis of the quota may also have to do with prejudices and scepticism.

On the whole, however, it is likely that the proportion of women will lead to a rethinking of the economy in the long term. The shortage of skilled workers in the natural sciences can be remedied in this way, which is why the quota of women is seamlessly linked to the promotion of doctoral students in science.

Sooner or later, such quotas will become superfluous, since they are only used to overcome critical hurdles. Once equal opportunities have been established, benefits are quickly recognised and leveraged.

Promotion of female entrepreneurship founders

Since 2014, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy has been supporting women entrepreneurs. To encourage women, the ministry launched the campaign “Women’s Enterprise”. The aim is to build up a network of women managers and founders of all ages. This way, contacts can be made to established female executives and vice versa to young, ambitious graduates.

The initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs is intended to make female entrepreneurship better known in schools and universities and to create role models for potential female entrepreneurs. Many women have never considered becoming self-employed before. This can only change if you provide information and success stories.

Which support offers are offered?

Funding opportunities include start-up grants, low-cost loans for start-ups and venture capital. In addition, financial support is also provided for start-up advice through start-up initiatives, management consultancy and chambers of commerce and industry.

In addition, there is also the possibility of obtaining partial financing for a management consultancy through the federal government’s advisory support. With the founder coaching company founders can be advised by experienced specialists for a period of one year. This also applies to freelancers.

Furthermore, the move into self-employment can be a meaningful step, especially for the unemployed. Here, the Federal Employment Agency uses an entrance allowance for recipients of Arbeitslosengeld II and a start-up grant for recipients of Arbeitslosengeld I.

In addition, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs’ funding database provides an overview of the various gender-independent financial support provided by the state and the EU.

Final consideration: compatibility with (your own) role model

Finally, the special promotion of women as founders of new businesses fits into the programmes for the advancement of female executives and women’s scientific careers. Women can start their career immediately after graduation as founders, as well as after a career in the company. The decisive factor here, more so than with men, is that there must be enough opportunities to reconcile work and family life.

Women who do not work at all or work mainly part-time, but want to increase their participation, are lost potential for the national economy if their interests are not promoted. Equality between men and women in the workplace is therefore desirable and promotes economic and social development.
In addition to financial support, however, a professional and private social network is also crucial: contacts and family support, especially for mothers as founders, are indispensable for success.


[1] Schmid, T. Urban, D.: Women on Corporate Boards: Good or Bad? AFA 2016 San Francisco Meetings Paper, 2016.

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