6 March 2019
How Madrid Promotes Female Entrepreneurship

Women are a key element in the family economy in Spain, although over recent years they have been greatly affected by high rates of unemployment. If we add the gender pay gap to this, it means that, generally speaking, women earn less than men for doing the same job.

This issue gave rise to the GIRA Mujeres program, promoted by Coca-Cola Spain and undertaken in partnership with numerous organizations specialising in female entrepreneurship, including Impact Hub Madrid. The program’s aim is to facilitate personal and professional training for women, helping them on their road to entrepreneurship or to reinvent their business.

For the past year, Impact Hub Madrid has been organizing the GIRA Mujeres Weekend — free day-long events for women aged 18 to 60, taught by Impact Hub specialists.

The GIRA Mujeres Weekend (GMW) is aimed at women who have been working on their business ideas but need practical advice to get them off the ground. It’s also for those who have their own businesses but want to grow them, gain further training and learn more about entrepreneurship and strategy. The program is also open to women who want to get to know inspirational entrepreneurs with whom they can network in order to improve their entrepreneurial skills and share challenges and lessons.

This intensive course is divided into 6 two hour modules consisting of inspirational and dynamic talks about subjects such as strategy, legal affairs, hiring staff, how to sell products and services, project scalability, financial backing and how to communicate entrepreneurial ideas.

“It’s a total of 14 hours where we combine the theory element with a dynamic part, so that the women get to know each other and they also present their projects”, explains Sonia Pérez Olmedillo, the GIRA Mujeres Weekend coordinator at Impact Hub Madrid.  “The participants should have a project related to the food and beverages value chain, which means the scope is very wide”. Therefore, there’s a place for “initiatives involving marketing, event organization, training, the use of recycled materials, sustainable fashion, coaching, human resources, etc.”

Connecting with different Impact Hubs in Spain

The year 2019 sees the project expanding into Portugal (Porto and Lisbon), in addition to new cities in Spain: Pamplona, Malaga, Salamanca and Barcelona. Over the last 12 months, GMW has been held in Madrid (twice), Donostia, Bilbao, Vigo, Pontevedra and Valencia. To reach these cities, Impact Hub Madrid established connections with other Impact Hubs in two Spanish cities (Vigo and Donostia).

“When you hear the words ‘establish a partnership’, you usually think of professional relationships. However, the partnership created between the participating Impact Hubs in taking GMW forward has gone way beyond a professional relationship: it’s an emotional, motivational and even personal partnership, no matter how the responsibilities are shared out”, explains Verena Hammes, community manager of Impact Hub Donostia. “Perhaps it’s something that can only be understood by the Impact Hub network, whose number one aim is for its projects to have a positive effect. There’s no doubt that GMW has a real impact, specifically on a particularly overlooked yet resilient group: women entrepreneurs.”

After the weekend training, the entrepreneurs can access more extensive online training: “El viaje al emprendimiento” (The road to entrepreneurship). This concludes with 10 finalists who each gain access to three months of training so they can continue developing their business idea, and three further months to get it on its feet. The judging panel then chooses three winners who each get 6 additional months of mentoring with professionals from the Impact Hub network, as well as €3,000 worth of start-up capital to launch their projects.

Plus, as expected, new partnerships, ideas and projects emerge from contact with other female entrepreneurs. “Many of participants in the intensive training program have continued to strengthen their business relationships and are generating new opportunities based on strategic alliances. Others have capitalized on our network of contacts and many continue in close communication with Impact Hub to ensure they add and identify new ways of making an impact”, says Selena Rodríguez, community coordinator and programs manager for Impact Hub Vigo.

Participants in the GMW have established an association for female entrepreneurs in Valencia. In Donostia, Impact Hub itself found the seed to grow the HUB de emprendedoras (Female Entrepreneurs’ Hub) initiative by way of the GIRA Mujeres project. It regularly brings together more than 30 women to network and gain inspiration in areas relating to entrepreneurship.

Over the course of this year, more than 500 women have used the tools provided by Impact Hub and Coca-Cola Spain to boost their businesses and embody their ideas. Nevertheless, as Sonia Pérez states, “the driving force is always the energy, capabilities and generosity of all female entrepreneurs”.

Through this program, GIRA Mujeres contributes to SDGs: