Female entrepreneurship on the rise

The latest numbers from GEDI’s Female Entrepreneurship Index show that there has been an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs in recent years. And Amsterdam, known for hosting key events promoting female entrepreneurship – including TEDxAmsterdamWomen, European Women in Technology and TheNextWomen Summit – is giving a platform for these innovative female founders. So it should come as no surprise that there are more and more cutting-edge female-led startups appearing in the capital.

FinTech and cybersecurity

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tech conference that doesn’t mention FinTech or cybersecurity – some of the biggest sectors in today’s business ecosystem. And Amsterdam’s female-led startups are innovating in both.

Dr Melanie Rieback is the CEO and co-founder of Radically Open Security, the world’s first-ever non-profit computer security consultancy business. In 2016, The Amsterdam-based company – which strives for online transparency and openness in cybersecurity – was named the 50th most innovative SME by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK).

Faktor, which was co-founded by Anke Kuik, is a blockchain-based identity management platform for brands, publishers and consumers. From their office on the Herengracht, the company gives publishers the tools they need to operate sustainable business models. In addition, it gives brands the ability to advertise more effectively and gives consumers more control over their personal data.

Another great FinTech startup in Amsterdam is Limitless, whose app makes investment more attractive for financial institutions' millennial customers. The co-founder and CEO, Sara Koslinska, recently won the Founder of the Year award at the Central European Startup Awards.

Creating impact

Another important sector in today's business world is social entrepreneurship, which is concerned with developing smart, sustainable solutions to cultural, environmental and urban problems. Sinzer, which is co-owned and managed by Marlon van Dijk, gives these companies an intuitive platform for managing societal impact.

And female founders Lieke Pijpers and Thalita van Ogtrop have put their own environmentally friendly spin on the online fashion scene. Their company, The Next Closet, is an online marketplace for second-hand designer fashion, where users can sell their own clothes or shop for a sustainable bargain. Their goal is to make second-hand fashion more mainstream, cutting down on the industry’s pollution and creating social impact in the process.  

Platforms for better education

Female-led startups are also making their mark on the education sector. For example, there’s Nimbles, an online platform that allows students (across a range of ages) to find their perfect private tutor. The company – founded by Danique Wiltink – won the TEDxAmsterdamWomen Startup Award back in 2015. More recently, Wiltink won 2017's coveted LOEY Talent Award in the presence Queen Maxima, the event's guest of honour.

There’s also WizeNoze, which was founded in Amsterdam in 2013 by Diane Janknegt and Theo Huibers. The company utilises state-of-the-art text classification to help users create and access content that is both readable and reliable. WizeNoze’s algorithms – based on cutting-edge machine learning and rigorous academic research – enable children, teenagers, second-language learners and people with low literacy levels to read text in a way that works for them.

Health and wellbeing

When it comes to health-based innovations, Amsterdam’s female-founded startups have been rocking it. One such company is Magioni (Dutch link), led by Manon van Essen. Van Essen painstakingly came up with a recipe for a veggie-based, ‘guilt-free’ pizza that is both healthy and tasty. The company is currently taking social media by storm with its healthy alternative to everyone’s favourite Italian dish, and the list of retailers (Dutch link) stocking the product is always growing.

And let’s not forget about medical doctor Nicole van Tongeren’s startup, Butter for Breakfast. The company specialises in women’s workwear that was designed to maximise psychological well-being and – of course – comfort.

Creativity and business services

Female founders are flourishing in Amsterdam’s creative sector, too. Just look at FEST Amsterdam, owned by siblings Femke and Steven Furnée. Since its inception in 2013, the company has been designing high-end furniture and selling it at affordable prices. They’ve attracted an impressive following over the past two years, and they've been collaborating with some truly top-notch designers.

There’s also Sabrina Bos’ accessART – an online art marketplace that lists affordable art directly from artists themselves, giving them a visually appealing platform to host their work. Interestingly, Bos’ blog gives great insights into what it's like starting a company as a female.

When it comes to the legal sector, Ligo – founded by Wendy Bogers – is making some serious waves. Bogers believed the expensiveness and complexity of traditional lawyers needed to change, so Ligo disrupts these traditions, making it quicker and cheaper for SMEs to find high-quality legal services.

Calling all female innovators!

Are you a female entrepreneur who's brought an amazing innovation to market? Put yourself forward for the EU Prize for Women Innovators. The contest is open to female entrepreneurs across the EU, and the first prize is a whopping €100,000. The main award criteria are economic impact, societal impact, originality and marketability, and the impact and leadership of the applicant. The application deadline is 15 November 2017. So if you're a female with a cutting-edge idea that's pushing your sector forward, what are you waiting for? Apply now