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when you give girls the room to experiment with their ideas - they change the future

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Only 7% of startups in Austria are founded by women, which lies shockingly low under the European average of 15%. Statistically, companies founded and led by women generate more revenue. So what is holding women back? Speaking to women in the community there are many reasons, most prominently: the fear of failure. If we provide more opportunities to women early on in life to experiment with their ideas and give them the room to fail and try again then we might be able to increase these figures.

This opportunity and change is what the Youth Entrepreneurship Week is seeking to implement. With a vision for Austria to harness its budding entrepreneurial talent, the Youth Entrepreneurship Week was born to equip young people with the tools and the mentors they need to change the future. To do just that, more than 1800 students from over 60 schools took part in 55 Entrepreneurship Weeks all over Austria in 2021. In three and a half days, they channel their creative power through a journey of problem finding, idea development, business modelling, financing, and prototyping.

business ideas: from sustainable covid tests to period education for kids

The pupils’ innovative solutions ranged from sustainable corona tests, the reuseage of school books, games to teach children sign language to free period products and a networking platform for girls and young women.

Originating from their idea at their school’s Youth Entrepreneurship Week, the team ‘Mama, Papa, Ich seh rot’ (Mum, Dad, I see red) from HLW Freistadt is currently developing a children’s book to educate families about the period. For the female factor, Astrid Kroiher, Lisa Brandstätter, Julia Ruep, Giulia Schinagl and Corina Stumptner talked about their idea, their founding journey so far and the challenges they are facing along the way:

“‘Mama, Papa, Ich seh rot' is a child and gender-friendly book with an included parenting guide on menstruation education. We are glad we had the opportunity to participate in the programme and we learnt a lot from our supportive mentors, whilst also having fun. We learnt how to pitch professionally and not be afraid to present our ideas.”

Das Siegerteam from Youth Entrepreneurship Week in Austria.
Credit: Youth Entrepreneurship Week, Team ‘Mama, Papa, ich seh rot’ together with their trainers Eva Kirchhofer (right) and Florian Schanznig (second to right) and the jury after winning the pitch competition at their school

“Our next steps are definitely to write the story, design suitable pictures with primary school students and seek professional support. Our main challenges at the moment are getting funding to create a prototype.”

While they are just getting started, they can already give some advice to other young women who want to realise the potential of their own ideas:

“It is important that you believe in yourself. Strong teamwork and the right steps are very important. If you have a good idea, think about how to implement it and get professional support.”

support the next generation of entrepreneurs

This initiative is organised by the associations IFTE and AustrianStartups and supported by the Federal Ministry of Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO). For the second round of the Youth Entrepreneurship Week, even more students will have the opportunity to experience their power to change their future in 110 Weeks all over Austria. Eager to support the young entrepreneurs on their journey as an inspirational speaker, mentor or jury member? Check out the website to take part!

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