Inner City Enterprise

Youth Business International and Citi Foundation drive equal access to entrepreneurship in Europe by breaking down barriers for women in business

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YBl and Citi drive equal access to entrepreneurship, supporting 26,000 young entrepreneurs and 6,500 businesses in Europe, in 5 years.

  • The Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2020 on Tuesday 20 October, 15:00-16:30 BST / 16:00-17:30 CEST, will celebrate 11 of Europe’s most inspiring young women entrepreneurs 
  • The winner will receive funding to support the ongoing development of their business
  • Citi Foundation and YBI’s Youth Business Europe five-year programme has supported 26,000 young entrepreneurs and 6,500 businesses in Europe
  • As unemployment rises, female entrepreneurs can play a critical role in driving economic recovery and resilience across Europe
  • The event will shine a light on the state of the world for female entrepreneurship, as well as the barriers and enablers for women in this space 
  • Speakers will include Pip Jamieson, Founder & CEO; The Dots and Bonnie Chiu, Managing Director, The Social Investment Consultancy

13 October 2020 – Youth Business International (YBI) and Citi Foundation will host the Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award on Tuesday 20 October. The Award celebrates 11 of Europe’s most inspiring young women entrepreneurs, who are part of 26,000 young entrepreneurs Youth Business Europe Programme has supported over the past five years, with a tailored package of business training, access to networks, mentoring, and financial advice. Part of Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, the aim of the programme is to help address youth unemployment and access to decent work.

Drawing on insights from the programme, the event will shine a light on the state of the world for female entrepreneurship, the structural barriers and enablers for women in this space, and the clear economic and social benefits of more women becoming entrepreneurs. 

The entrepreneur finalist for Ireland is Emma Dungan with their business,   

Emma loves dogs and this passion spurred her to launch dog walking service Pawfit in 2018. provides busy working people with the opportunity to have their dog exercised and interacted with during the day. also offer pet sitting services, allowing dog owners to have the freedom to travel, while knowing their dog is in safe care. Emma received support from YBI’s member in Ireland, Inner City Enterprise.

Featuring speeches and presentations from inspiring leaders across business and entrepreneurship the event promises to provide invaluable insights to female entrepreneurship:  Anita Tiessen, CEO, YBI; Bonnie Chiu, Managing Director, The Social Investment Consultancy; Pip Jamieson, Founder & CEO, The Dots; Silvia Boschetti, Public Affairs and Government Affairs Officer, Citi Italy; and MC Adenike Adeyemi, YBI Trustee and Executive Director, FATE Foundation.

Today, only 1 in 3 businesses are owned by women1. Gender inequality manifests itself in various ways in different countries, but the gap is ubiquitous globally. Many women face structural barriers at almost every stage in the entrepreneurial journey, including barriers of their race, culture, and even government policies. 

Unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs supports the economy through job creation, as well bringing a wealth of innovative business ideas to market. This is particularly important now at a time when women are disproportionately feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Research shows that improving gender equality could create 10.5 million jobs by 2050 and boost the EU economy by between 1.95 and 3.15 trillion Euros3

Equally, women-owned businesses have transformative potential for our communities, especially at a local level. Their businesses create decent work, improve livelihoods, and are engines of community re-investment. 90% of income made by female entrepreneurs is distributed to their families and communities4. Empowering women drives inclusive economic growth and resilience.

Access to finance remains more difficult for women. Approximately 80% of women-owned businesses with credit needs in low-income countries are either unserved or underserved5.The entrepreneurial system is built on informal networks that frequently exclude women and perpetuate deeply entrenched gender norms, which are exemplified by those identified as successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The lack of access to business networks and visible female role models are reinforcing the gender gap and holding young women back. 70% of girls say they think differently about their futures after hearing from women role models6

The European Commission has placed gender equality high on the policy agenda and set up a European community of women business angels and women entrepreneurs to increase access to alternative sources of funding. Programmes such as Youth Business Europe programme has provided critical access to skills development and support networks, which help female entrepreneurs gain insight, improve success rates, and change perceptions of what an entrepreneur looks like. 

Anita Tiessen, CEO of YBI, said: “When YBI teamed up with Citi Foundation in 2015, our shared vision was to provide equal access to entrepreneurship to help address youth unemployment in Europe. Five years on, our vision has not changed, but the world has. As governments worldwide plan for economic recovery, equipping more young women and people to start, grow and sustain the SMEs that are vital to our economies should be more of a priority. It is YBI’s priority. We won’t give up until every young woman has succeeded.”

Rachael Barber, EMEA Head of Community Development at Citi, said: “At Citi, we believe that entrepreneurship can help young Europeans to build a livelihood.  We are delighted that our continued partnership with YBI will now reflect our shared commitment to women’s economic empowerment that due to the COVID-19 has become even more important” 

The Youth Business Europe Programme has mentored young female entrepreneurs to equip them with the skills, confidence, and connections they need to become successful business owners. The YBE partnership includes 11 YBI member organisations in 10 countries: Belgium (microStart), France (Adie, Positive Planet), Germany (KIZ), Italy (MicroLab), Ireland (Inner City Enterprise), Kazakhstan (MOST Business Incubator), the Netherlands (Qredits), Russia (jointly supported by YBI member Youth Business Russia alongside Impact Hub Moscow), Spain (Youth Business Spain), and Sweden (Swedish Jobs and Society). 

The Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2020 aims to make some of the most promising female entrepreneurs visible to tackle perception and confidence issues, and ensure women and girls have more relatable role models in the future. This year’s finalists are:

  • Christina Plaka, I am mangaka!, Germany
  • Emma Duncan, Pawfit, Ireland
  • Giulia Pettinau, Orangogo, Italy 
  • Lara Prendes, Despensa 77, Spain
  • Lola Arias, Maison Dolores, France
  • Lorie Meurmans, Small if Biotiful, Belgium
  • Mathilde Cortinovis, Équilibres Café, France
  • Mariia Plotkina, Geek Teachers, Russia
  • Mariya Abadiyeva, Step Clap Art School, Kazakhstan
  • Mia Bremer, Gastronomi á la Mia AB, Sweden
  • Nanke Over, Flamingo Services, Netherlands


Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2020

Tuesday 20 October 2020, 15:00-16:30 BST / 16:00-17:30 CEST 

Virtual event. 

Read more here.

Please sign up here.

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