Why we need to invest in more women climate entrepreneurs

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  • Women are more affected by climate change than men, yet innovation and entrepreneurship in this area is dominated by men.
  • Women entrepreneurs face many obstacles to succeed in “green technologies”, including access to capital and structural discrimination.
  • We can support the development of women entrepreneurs by using accelerators and incubators and by recruiting more women into the tech and banking sectors.

In the fight against climate change, entrepreneurship and innovation – known as “greentech” – are essential. Women are more affected by climate change than men, and yet greentech is currently a male dominated field; in Canada, only 1 in 10 greentech company founders is female and only 19% of greentech startups have at least one female founder. When it comes to creating climate solutions, the female perspective is sorely lacking.

Investing in women entrepreneurs would generate higher returns for society as a whole, as women invest more of their income in their families than men. And since businesses founded by women tend to employ 2.5 times more women than businesses founded by men, empowering women entrepreneurs would also mean that more women could access employment opportunities.

Women entrepreneurs are more likely than their male counterparts to innovate to meet social needs, and women also perform better than men in key skills such as leadership, problem solving and innovation. Venture capital finance in climate technology is currently growing five times faster than overall venture capital finance, indicating the high level of demand for this area of ​​innovation. If women could move into leadership positions in this field, it would help build wealth and narrow the gender wealth gap.

The challenges faced by women entrepreneurs

Access to capital is a major challenge facing women entrepreneurs, with evidence showing that they are discriminated against by banks. In 2017, only 2% of venture capital funding in the United States went to startups created entirely by women. A study by Harvard, MIT and the Wharton School showed this gender bias: When the same idea was launched by a male and female voice, two-thirds of investors chose the male voice. This bias could be due to the fact that 88% of decision makers in venture capital firms are men.

Women also face other disadvantages. In Asia and the Pacific, studies have shown that women perform nearly four times as many unpaid caregiving tasks as men, which means they have less time and energy to retrain, work on jobs. overtime and networking. Green tech is also STEM oriented and the STEM sectors are dominated by men with only 5% of managerial positions in the UK tech sector held by women. The problem starts with education, with just 3% of women in the UK stating that a career in tech is their first choice. The lack of female role models is also a barrier for young green tech entrepreneurs.

Gender equality in the 2050 Agenda for sustainable development

A female perspective is needed to find climate solutions.

Image: UN Women

How can we address the gender disparity in climate entrepreneurship?

1. Incubators and accelerators

Many startups fail at the initial stage. Incubators and accelerators can provide mentorship, resources, space, networking opportunities, and access to capital. Women often lack networking opportunities and joining accelerator programs can allow them to meet key stakeholders. Climate startups can face unique challenges, such as long-term ROI and changing government regulations and policies. Accelerator programs can help women entrepreneurs get valuable advice and support to overcome these challenges.

2. A dynamic of recruiting women in the technological and green sectors

Many entrepreneurs start by working in a company and then build a company based on their experience. If the green technology sector employs more women, they will gain the experience and confidence to start their own businesses. In the United States, only 24% of workers in the tech sector are women. At greentech giant Tesla, 83% of management positions are held by men.

3. A campaign to appoint more women to the boards of directors of venture capital firms and banks

Only 9% of venture capitalists investing in tech startups are women, less than 2% of bank CEOs are women, and only 5.3% of board chairs globally are female . Having more women in these positions would help minimize unconscious gender bias. Deloitte’s Board Ready Women is a worthy initiative that aims to support women who aspire to serve on the boards of directors of public companies. Participants receive advice from experienced board members, help developing their board profile and important networking opportunities.


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