05 July 2021 | Online

The assumption that underlies most entrepreneurial ecosystems is that all entrepreneurs can equally access the ecosystem's support. In theory, this assumption is valid - in practice, this is not always the case-a group of highly motivated students coordinated by PhD Candidate Iulia Stroila and Jun. Prof. Dr. Sue Rossano-Rivero have created a booklet to collect stories of students, alumni, entrepreneurship educators, and women entrepreneurs from the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Münster, Germany, to reveal exciting insights on inclusivity within entrepreneurial ecosystems and education.

Women still own way less startup equity than their male counterparts, and statistics show us that women face numerous challenges. Women are less well represented in incubators and scale-up programs and face substantial challenges such as fewer opportunities in startup capital acquisition and lower perception of the possibility of business creation. If women entrepreneurs' rate is to be improved, measures must go beyond "fixing women" through educational and training activities, hence moving the focus from individuals to resource providers, networks, and the "connectors" within the ecosystem (Foss et al., 2019). HEI's and their partners in the local ecosystem need to collaborate to increase the number of female graduates to engage in entrepreneurship, facilitate and remove obstacles to entrepreneurship overall (Brush et al., 2019), and support their progression and advancement entrepreneurial journeys. The time has come - it is no longer only about educating for entrepreneurship; it is about making sure that all feel invited to be entrepreneurs and that students, no matter their gender, nationality, or background, are aware of entrepreneurship as a career perspective. We want to inspire those who might have great ideas but are still hesitant towards making the big step into entrepreneurship.

Now we are excited to launch Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A series of Authentic Stories from Münster. The booklet was an initiative within the project Women Entrepreneurs in Regional Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (WeRin) with the reference number 621750-EPP-1-2020-1-DE-EPPKA2-KA. The WeRin project is funded and overseen by EACEA. A pioneering European initiative, WeRIn, lead by the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre at the FH Münster University of Applied Sciences, aims to enhance the inclusivity of entrepreneurship education and support programs to increase the share of female graduate entrepreneurs and enhance their level of embeddedness in regional entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe.

Through the creation of this booklet, the three missions of the University of Teaching, research, and knowledge transfer are used to create synergy effects, resulting in enhanced teaching formats that bring students (male and female) closer to entrepreneurship and leadership role models to learn from and to raise awareness on the topics at hand. So does Nicole Bedoya, a Bachelor student involved in creating the booklet, explains: "This project has allowed me to understand interdependent actors and relations systems better, and the experience has been enriching. Although female entrepreneurship is in the early stages, the stories and experiences gathered could motivate women to join the entrepreneurial path. Even though it is challenging, the legacy left behind marks a point in history."

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