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Welcome to Shahd H. Rashed's Tea Party Blog

Mind the gap


During She Can event, there was a stage panel discussing the gap in investment between male-led versus female-led startups although the female-led startups are outperforming the male-led startups.

On the panel: Ahella Elsabban the cofounder and COO of Exits MENA, Doaa Gawish the CEO and founder of The Hair Addict, Margreet Magdy the head of patnerships and research at Exits MENA, and Sabrina Salama the head of MENA partnerships at Seedstars.


The cornerstone knowledge is that the access to investment knowledge is a struggle due to the culture despite being male or female. What makes it even worse is the male-dominated industries. Then, new initiatives started to provide investments to female owners or co-owners of the start-ups.


The readiness to invest needs knowledge to research & present the ideas, perform a financial valuation, and represent the financial returns to the investors. And in Egypt we do lack this readiness for both males & females. But the only difference lands in males having a wider access to networks than females which helps them to be ready & match males to investors easily.

But women have many other roles to play, which negatively affects their ability to network or pitch to the investors equally. In addition to the imposter syndrome that affects women and lead them to not feel confident enough to speak up their thoughts. And we have less female role-models than male role-models to build our confident in the ecosystem. And the solution is in enabling females need to network, even if we come from different backgrounds we need to have a neutral business language or jargon that is understandable regardless of the gender.


Another financial investment conflict is whether the start-up is brand-based or a tech-based. The fundemental belief is that startup based on technology is able to scale regardless of its brand. And the solution to this is to have another investment model for the brand-based start-ups.


The low number of female role-models leads to having a mind-set in our culture that as you go up the career ladder more positions are held by men. And this leads to changing the conversation between males and females to revolve around the hormonal changes or emotional instability for females in taking decisions. So, women are always censored being afraid to go to the next step due to the glass-ceiling which is placed everywhere.


As females we grow up without understanding how to become financially independent. And this is the main reason leading to the current situation of having more male investors than females.


From the investors perspectice, the best situation is to have a mix between males & females in the startup they are investing in. And to have this mind-set we need to work on our own capacities before the business idea and not to fear working in a male-dominated industry. Overcome your perfectionism, it is normal to start then fail and try again, as this strengthens the execution muscle.


Being an entrepreneur is an extra role that is added to women, no room for randomness! So the final advice is to research well, enable yourself, and surround yourself with a support system. And always remember it always takes a village!

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