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Boosting Support for Female Founders Across the Region

Preduzimanje always goes an extra mile when supporting their community. In spring 2021, the organization did an amazing job with co-organizing Investment Readiness program for female founders.

With a desire to offer something different to Serbian and regional startups, Preduzimanje teamed up with Women Founders Network Albania to deliver a unique and highly valuable Investment Readiness Program for female founders.

Preduzimanje is a community-building organization dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs in Serbia. Its unique way of taking care of a community and attracting new members made Preduzimanje exclusive and very popular among (female) entrepreneurs. Besides helping businesswomen learn how to scale and improve their businesses, Preduzimanje is also creating a distinctive and closely connected fellowship of peers who support and help each other beyond the frame of the organization.

With the notion that access to finance is challenging for all startups, but particularly for female founders, the founder of Preduzimanje and Swiss EP Ecosystem Facilitator Milena Milić wanted to address this problem straight on. She decided to organize an Investment Readiness program for female founders. Keeping in mind that scalable women-led businesses are a rarity in the Western Balkan countries, Milena had the idea to establish regional cooperation with a like-minded organization and offer a program that would educate and connect female founders across the region. She joined forces with Blendina Cara, Swiss EP Program Officer and and Women Founders Network Albania co-founder, and later with Efino, who already had the experience and expertise in delivering this type of program.

After extensive preparation and team alignment, Preduzimanje, WFNA, and Efino opened a call for applications to the program in mid-April 2021. By the beginning of May, they had received 58 applications from female-lead startups from all over the region. Since the program was designed exclusively for seven teams, organizers had a challenging task selecting participants. However, with carefully crafted criteria that favored startups with the highest scaling potential, the fabulous seven were eventually selected.

The program started on May 11, 2021 and over the next six weeks, 3 hands-on workshops, 3 working sessions, and 30 one-on-one mentoring sessions were delivered. This mix of activities offered a modular and varied learning path for everyone and, as a result, the program proved to be a great success with very positive feedback from participants and NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 9,64 out of 10!)

The combination of webinar/workshop with the coaching one-on-one was key to an enriching experience. It was a win-win for all stakeholders, especially the founders, allowing them to grasp the concepts to start their fundraising journey. As a trainer, I learned so much from the women founders and their financing journeys.

Maria Carolina Romero, Efino

Participating teams evaluated the entire program very highly, pointing out that the whole experience was precious to them.

One of the reasons we applied was our strategic decision to pursue investment in the second half of 2021. The entire program was priceless for us. It encouraged us to get the structure, the meaning, and helped us reflect on everything we did so far. Maria Carolina and her professionalism helped us learn new concepts. In the end, the most valuable and tangible result of the program for us is the valuation we calculated and conversations we had to “defend” how we came to it.

Kristina Paralidis, InnSono

Besides Serbian-based InnSono, other startups in the program were: Komleko (Serbia), RockTirana (Albania), Thurje Handmade (Albania), Konceptiva Digital (North Macedonia), Multiburke & Kafe (Kosovo), and Orea Bazaar (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Preduzimanje brought a unique hands-on program to the Serbian startup scene, positioning itself as the go-to organization for female-led startups. On top of that, Preduzimanje proved that the regional startup scene is open for collaboration and networking on two levels: from startup support organizations and among startups.

One of the critical success factors of the Investment Readiness program for female founders was its focus on mature startups committed to growing, and actively searching for investors. Such startups are few in number but they are genuine gems—they are the ones who generate revenue, grow, and eventually create jobs. Nurturing other founders to reach this level of preparedness will set the stage for continued momentum and success for female-led startups in the region. Preduzimanje and its partners are working on it.