The Luxembourg-based non-profit association Women in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) has previously hosted a hackathon for women with entrepreneurial ideas and projects in the digital space.
Hosted at Technoport, 10 participants had the opportunity to take their ideas off the ground and develop concrete digital business projects, benefitting from a full day of learning, sharing and coaching from professionals with backgrounds in technology, design, marketing and business.
“We are delighted to have been able to offer such an event!” Marina Andrieu, Managing Director and co-founder of WIDE tells Silicon Luxembourg. “It was very important to restart for female digital entrepreneurs, to embrace new ideas and create new projects after this uncertain period,” she adds.
3 out of 6 digital projects were rewarded at the “Restart for female digital starters” hackathon held as part of the Erasmus+ project “Move it Forward+”.
The “Best Impact Project” was awarded to Bhavani Vijayakumar’s “Childs Play” which aims “to create a safe
discussion platform among young children to educate them regarding the better use of social media”.
“My experience was great in the hackathon. […] It provided me with positive insights from another person’s perspective,” Vijayakumar tells Silicon Luxembourg, praising organisers for finding good coaches, providing a great working space, discussion materials and constructive criticism.
Betty Spurgeon’s project “Friendly Advice” initially started as a platform for online legal advice to help newcomers and students to integrate in Luxembourg. Since the hackathon, “we’ve been moving away from legal to regular advice because of the logistical challenges and I am excited to see where it goes,” Spurgeon tells Silicon Luxembourg.
She “thoroughly enjoyed” WIDE’s MoveItForward+ hackathon. “I understand that having such a small group of participants can be challenging in its own way, but the 1-on-1 time with our coaches, along with the excellent and detailed feedback, made the event an invaluable experience.”
Diana-Raluca Cheregi won the “Best Innovative Project” for “Femart Gallery” – a web gallery platform where female artists can share and sell creations to increase their visibility in the digital world with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). She credits the event for giving her courage to pitch the idea.
“It definitely is the starting point and the most encouraging way to build a skeleton of what could become a real business project,” she tells Silicon Luxembourg.
“Being amongst other teams inspired me and my teammate Elena Castillo Parraga to brainstorm and choose better ideas. Feedback was provided along the way by the coaches and their support helped us with the blockages we had,” she adds.
Cheregi talks about the difficulties of not knowing whether one’s digital project idea is promising or not.
“Combining this with the lack of support or professional opinion, most often great ideas will not be presented ever,” she says, adding that she now feels a lot more confident in her idea.
“Thanks to the MoveItForward+ hackathon, that will provide mentoring after the event, I can see a great opportunity ahead,” she states.
Entrepreneurial gender gap
The pandemic has led to a decrease in the share of individuals with future entrepreneurial prospects and widened the already existing entrepreneurial gender gap, especially in Luxembourg.
In the Grand Duchy, the drop in female early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) was substantial, standing at 40%, while male TEA suffered a 9% decrease, a June 2021 Statec report on entrepreneurial activities reveals.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the average female TEA declined by 13% while male TEA only by 7%, with Luxembourg recording a decline in total TEA from 10.2% in 2019 to 8% in 2020, the report shows.