Wingate Project Helps Female Entrepreneurs With Free E-learning Program

Innovation

The Wingate project, an international business support program with a budget of around EUR 2 million that uses research results to support women in the realization of their business goals with training and networking events, launched its educational platform in November, which helps beginner and advanced entrepreneurs, as well as angel investors, with free thematic learning materials.

The weight of businesses with purely female owners is becoming more and more significant even in Hungary: while in 2021 14% of all registered domestic companies were managed by women, within a year this proportion climbed to 17%. However, there is plenty of room for improvement, as the number of businesses run by men is still twice as many, and according to last year's survey by the Wingate project, women would like to expand their specific financial knowledge and business relationships in order to develop. 

Wingate notes that female leaders can help humanity in the most effective way to overcome the climate crisis. According to the newly adopted directive of the European Parliament, by 2026, 33% of all management positions in companies must be occupied by women, although this does not yet apply to companies employing fewer than 250 people. There is definitely progress, however, few people are still concerned with how to effectively support women in starting a company and then in sustainable growth, or even in helping these entrepreneurs to become business angels themselves - although it is clear from the above, it would be in our common interest.

The Wingate project was launched in 2020 under the leadership of the Hungarian SKC-Consulting Kft. with the aim of supporting novice and more experienced female entrepreneurs with knowledge transfer, training, and networking opportunities. The project, realized with a contribution of 2 million euros from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Norwegian Regional Cooperation Fund, helps women in Moldova, Norway, Romania and Serbia to realize their business ambitions, in the areas where they need it most.

As the first step in this, a comprehensive international survey was prepared in 2021 with the participation of nearly 1,500 respondents, which accurately assessed which skills and knowledge could be developed to enable more women to enter the challenging world of entrepreneurship. The project started compiling target-specific knowledge materials and training based on the answers received.

"The female entrepreneurs unanimously reported that the administrative obligations and the legal environment are/were the biggest challenge for them when starting a company, and this is definitely an area in which we can provide them with effective help with proper education, the collection of available and understandable transfer of information," says Ágnes Puskás, head of the Wingate project

"They are also uncertain about how their idea can be translated into a successful business in practice and how they can present it to an investor or a business angel. Acquiring financial knowledge is therefore still a key issue, but at the same time it has become clear that development is also necessary in relation to soft skills: communication, self-awareness or even negotiation techniques are more important when building a successful business than we think," she adds.

Education as the Key Issue

One of the main objectives of the Wingate project was the creation of an online knowledge platform based on needs and demands, tailored to different entrepreneurial phases, in which the preparation of a comprehensive questionnaire survey was considered an important milestone. With the help of project partners, a free digital educational platform has been created that can effectively contribute to the mission. In addition to the fact that the e-platform helps women start a business, it also provides support to those who have already started their business and want to develop it. After registration, seven different "lessons" are currently available on the site - partly in English, partly in Hungarian - and in specific topics that help start-up entrepreneurs, those planning to expand their business, and angel investors. The goal is to continuously expand the available curriculum.

"Anyone who digs into the otherwise easy-to-consume materials can get practical tips on how to prepare a good business plan, what are the steps that must be followed in the critical 100 days after founding a company, can get pointers for entering foreign markets and business development, while the female business angels can gain complex knowledge about the entire innovation ecosystem?" explains Puskás.

"There is enormous economic potential in women, who are not supported in their ambitions by their wider, or even often narrower environment, and after starting a family, these career aspirations are pushed even further into the background. However, it is good to see that the importance of entrepreneurial skills has already entered the mainstream media in the form of entertainment-educational content and to hear more and more positive examples of women who changed their professional profile from an almost impossible situation and started their own company. We want to support them," she says.

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