Three women seated, talking (© European Young Innovators Forum)
Puk Falkenberg, of Bloch & Østergaard, center, works with attendees at the Women in Entrepreneurship Roadshow in Copenhagen. (© European Young Innovators Forum)

As women around the world are setting out to start businesses, mentorship in the workforce is critical.

That’s why the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen teamed up with the European Young Innovators Forum to host the Women in Entrepreneurship Roadshow, a networking event for Danish women who own businesses.

“By bringing together women entrepreneurs with venture capital investors and mentors, [the roadshow] was the perfect tool for encouraging women’s entrepreneurship in Copenhagen’s dynamic tech environment,” said Ajay Rao, a U.S. Embassy official who helped organize the event.

The roadshow was one of 10 such events held across Europe this year, made possible through a grant from the U.S. Mission to the European Union, based in Brussels. With an eye to eventually reporting to the European Union about the state of women in business, its organizers aimed in the short term to connect business owners to mentors and identify challenges in their access to finance.

Denmark’s female entrepreneurs

In Denmark, as in many places, male entrepreneurship occurs at a greater rate than female entrepreneurship. According to a 2017 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, 4.4 percent of the country’s population are male business owners with at least one employee, while only 1.5 percent of the population are female business owners.

Puk Falkenberg is one entrepreneur from that small share. She launched her startup to connect tourists to local culture in Denmark. “I learned a lot from that experience,” she said. “It led me to start my own business as a consultant.”

She is now a co-owner and adviser at Bloch & Østergaard, a consulting firm that helps other businesses use social media and marketing. The challenges facing women entrepreneurs in Denmark don’t end once the business has been launched, she said.

Falkenberg cites gender bias as one of the largest factors prohibiting female entrepreneurship in Denmark, especially when it comes to receiving grants or loans. While progress has been made to identify societal biases, she still believes there’s more work to be done.

Thanks to events like the Women in Entrepreneurship Roadshow Copenhagen, she has connected with other women business owners in order to help them work past financing challenges.

“The conference was a helpful insight into what’s going on among female entrepreneurs at the moment,” she said. Moreover, listening to passionate entrepreneurs explain their goals is “the best energy boost you can get.”

Three women talking (© European Young Innovators Forum)
Jane Thomsen (left), of Innovation Fund Denmark, talks with Aviaja Riemann-Andersen (center), of Circular Food Technology, and Katja Bundgaard during the roadshow. (© European Young Innovators Forum)