Everyone loses when fewer women start businesses - Claudia Cavalluzzo

Another year, another Award celebration. Except this year is like no other.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director ConvergeClaudia Cavalluzzo, Director Converge
Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director Converge

We started 2020 full of hope and enthusiasm, with a strong belief that this was going to be another record year for academic entrepreneurship in Scotland. And we were not wrong, but ‘oh boy’ we had no idea of what it would take to get us where we are today!

Everything that had to be said about the consequences of Covid-19 has been said already, from the economic catastrophe to social care disasters. A crisis of this proportion causes a huge amount of clichés and repetitions (like the over-use of the word ‘unprecedented’). There have also been some ‘golden nuggets’, such as the one attributable to the founder of Rocket Space [a global network of technology campuses and services designed to help tech start-ups to scale]

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“US unemployment heading to 20%. Prepare for the biggest BOOM in entrepreneurship America has ever seen. Let’s not waste it”.

Scotland has listened and has not wasted this crisis. With a record number of applications coming into Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme for academic entrepreneurs, Scotland is sending a very strong message of entrepreneurialism, creativity and hope.

One of the things we worried about since the start of the pandemic was the number of female founders who would come to the fore. It is a well-known fact that crisis like the one we are experiencing tend to be harsher on women, for a variety of reasons. And this was reflected in our total number of female applicants that dropped to 35 per cent from 49 per cent in 2019. But numbers are not everything, they just tell one side of a story. The remainder of this 2020 told us something very different. What started as a male dominated cohort ended up being a balanced selection of finalists across all our categories. Women’s propositions, whilst fewer in numbers, demonstrated ambition, credibility and a vision that led to a clean sweep of all the major Converge prizes, awarded to 3 female founders or co-founders.

This year we also had a prize dedicated to female entrepreneurs, named the Rose Award, in honour of Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, who conducted and published a UK government commissioned review on female entrepreneurship. The Award was open to all 2020 Converge female participants. Their stories shone a light on the obstacles that women still face every day, in the world of business.

Lack of credibility, authority, and investment are some still of the main barriers female founders encounter on their entrepreneurial journey. This is simply not good enough and nobody should be satisfied with this. With less women starting and growing businesses everybody loses.

In the words of the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the greatest people who ever lived that the world continues to mourn, “It is not women's liberation, it is women's and men's liberation”

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director Converge



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.