See more pictures in Flickr album (©Jasmin Frei / Pep Shot and ©Swisscontact)
An enthusiastic audience, including well-known Swiss-based entrepreneurs and renowned managers, came to watch the six different businesses pitching and top-notch jury challenge the women.
"This was truly inspiring. So powerful”, mentioned one guest, a Zurich-based headhunter during the break, while the high-level jury was discussing the deliberation of the prizes.
20 talented and smart female founders from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Peru, Serbia and Vietnam with diverse business ideas, ranging from SaaS projects, to smart hardware, food and tourism, gathered for one week in Zurich to learn, share and work hard to bring their venture to the next level – and to network with each other and the Swiss startup community.
Bojana Mumović Peruško, Co-founder of FeJuice from Serbia come to the point that:
"If you are surrounded with such amazing women for the whole week, it makes you humble, but at the same time proud to be the part of that crowd. This great energy inspires and changes perspective."
On Monday, the five-day event was kicked off by the Head of Private Sector Development Division at SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), Liliana de Sà Kirchknopf. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of female entrepreneurship and more women in leadership positions.
"In the early days I was often the only woman in a male dominated environment; later I was happy to see that as first Swiss female Advisor in the Executive Director’s Office at the World Bank in Washington other women followed. Interests and competence matter, not stereotypes.”
14 mentors and investors from the respective countries supported the founders throughout the week, sharing insights, expertise and feedback. Additionally, the women were supported by diverse members of the Zurich ecosystem – joining in giving inputs on topics such as user insights and digital marketing, company valuation, investor expectations and the Swiss market.
Beside workshops, one further format was 1:1 mentoring sessions, to give another perspective on the service/product. Investors from the local scene, amongst others Brigitte Baumann, formerly elected European Angel Investor of the year and founder of Go Beyond Early Stage Investing, joined in to share what they are looking for before investing in a venture and some started evaluations and due diligence conversations right away.
Overall, the progress made by all participants paired the community spirit created was impressive to observe, and something the participants will carry with them back to their home countries.