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How the TopDutch region supports women in business

TopDutch citizens are known worldwide for their entrepreneurial spirit. Women are no exception. Figures from the Chamber of Commerce shows a 29 percent increase in the number of female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands over the past 5 years. How does the TopDutch region support women in business? And how can we make our ecosystems even more accessible for female leaders?

Women play a vital role in developing a healthy and innovative business environment. Study after study shows that having women in leadership positions fosters much greater levels of creativity, innovation, and competitive advantages in terms of management skills. The TopDutch region’s commitment to sustaining their leadership position as innovation leaders has led to a particular focus on improving opportunities for women to excel in business.

A unique business culture

TopDutch students are some of the most entrepreneurial in the world

The Northern Netherlands is world-renowned for their entrepreneurial spirit. The TopDutch culture breeds a unique business environment – the can-do and pro-business mentality creates ambitious, determined entrepreneurs, while the collaborative culture of the region makes for a business location regularly topping the charts in terms of innovation. Entrepreneurs are nurtured from young through the education system: In fact, the Hanze University of Applied Science ranked fifth in the world in terms of entrepreneurship.

The Dutch egalitarian culture also means women are just as ambitious as the men. However, as we all know, ambition isn’t enough. The struggle between family life and working life is a challenge for many working women – but the fact that the Netherlands has the best work/life balance in the world provides more opportunities for the women that want it all.

More work to do

Despite this culture, there’s much more work to do to build diverse ecosystems in the TopDutch region. A striking fact is that less than 2% of all venture capital investment in the Netherlands went to companies founded and managed by women, and only 6.8% went to diverse teams. This is despite the fact that research consistently shows that diversity leads to better team performance.

Various parties dedicated to building strong business ecosystems in the Northern Netherlands recently signed a commitment to changing this. The TopDutch Investment and Development Agency (NOM), Founded in Groningen and Founded in Friesland committed to the #FundRight initative, founded by TechLeap.nl in order to promote equal access to funding and opportunities for all start-up entrepreneurs, regardless of their background or gender.

‘If we, as the Northern Netherlands, wants to lead the way in terms of diversity, then we must make concrete steps. We cannot stop at words alone,' says Dina Boonstra, director of the NOM. 'We’re starting with awareness, and working towards a strong set of tools that entrepreneurs and fund managers can work with. At NOM, we are applying Fundright’s KPIs: Within three years all start-ups and scale-ups will have a management team that consists of at least 35% women. This also applies to our own investment team’.

Dina Boonstra, Director of the NOM

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