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Gender equality is increasingly an important issue in the workplace. Yet things could be a lot better when it comes to the representation of women in business, especially in the entrepreneurial world. Only 10 percent of all founders in the Dutch startup ecosystem are women. The recently launched Dutch program Momentum therefore focuses on supporting female founders. “If we do nothing, the system changes too slowly,” says Mercedes de Miranda, Program Director Momentum at Startupbootcamp.

The four-month hands-on program, set up by Startupbootcamp, Equals, Workmode and Unknown, helps female entrepreneurs in particular with the startup of a company. And that’s certainly not a luxury, according to de Miranda. “If we look at the latest figures, we see that women entrepreneurs still raise much less money than their male counterparts. And systemic changes are often incredibly slow.”


The ultimate goal is to cause an acceleration in society with Momentum. “It’s nice for everyone, including women entrepreneurs, to have role models. Women who have been walking around with a business idea for a while will then be more quickly inclined to think: Hey, entrepreneurship might also be something for me.”

Momentum will be rolled out in the Netherlands over the next two years, supported by a grant from the RVO. In 2021, the program was already tested with Equals in Amsterdam. “At that time we helped ten entrepreneurs start their businesses. They indicated that they found it a game changer. That strengthened us to continue the program.”


“The program starts with taking a good look at yourself,” de Miranda explains. “What are your superpowers as an entrepreneur? If you work from your own strengths then you are much more confident when it comes to entrepreneurship. We also help women to formulate an idea and express it well. It is important for every entrepreneur that you can tell what problem you are going to solve and for whom. In addition, we make sure participants build a network. Startupbootcamp and partners we work with already have a large network of entrepreneurs and specialists who can help the participants along the way.”

In a pressure cooker

Startupbootcamp helped many women entrepreneurs get started in recent years. Hanneke Stegweg participated in a startup accelerator years ago. She is the CEO and founder of iLost, a search engine for found objects. Stegweg had already started her company before she participated in the accelerator but thinks that help in the form of a structured program from the very beginning can have an advantage.

“Momentum could really increase the chances of success for women entrepreneurs,” Stegweg said. “I had no experience as an entrepreneur before and learned an awful lot in three months of Startupbootcamp. It is very intensive and meaningful to get into the pressure cooker with a number of entrepreneurs at the same time. Before the program I had never heard of a term sheet, three months later I received funding that really helped iLost moving forward.”

Statistics show that an accelerator is still no guarantee of success. “But I dare say that iLost would probably not have existed anymore if I hadn’t followed the Startupbootcamp program.”

Goal-oriented approach

Stegweg also emphasizes the importance of female role models in the entrepreneurial world. “Because there are still comparatively few female entrepreneurs, women mainly learn from men how to build a successful business. However, women face different challenges. By shining the spotlight on those issues, they can be targeted.”

“Very interesting to analyze the success of Momentum in a few years.”