During the 12-month skills development programme which is offered during the funding period, the aspiring female entrepreneurs are given support for developing their personal skills as an entrepreneur and refining their business idea. The women taking part in the programme are given a workspace at the applicant institution (at a startup incubator, the library or elsewhere) and the opportunity to use the institution’s infrastructure. They take part in the centralised and decentralised coaching and training measures offered by the institution’s startup network, network with other women in the EXIST Women cohort and engage in regular dialogue with a startup-experienced mentor. The aspiring entrepreneurs work with coaches and supporters to validate their business idea, develop a suitable business model and draw up a roadmap setting out the next steps of their path into self-employment. This also means looking for co-founders and dealing with the issue of applying for follow-up funding, for example from a startup funding programme such as the EXIST Business Startup Grant or the EXIST Transfer of Research programme.

Overview of the timeline:

0EXIST Women monitoring questionnaire (at the beginning of the funding period)
2, 4 (max. 6)Submission of the names of the aspiring female entrepreneurs and their mentors
3-5Female entrepreneurs seminar
1-12Female entrepreneurs forum
12Project conclusion (Submission of the ‘business idea outlines’ (one-pager) by the female entrepreneurs and evaluation of the measures’ document)
12, 24, 48, 72EXIST Women monitoring questionnaire (after the end of the funding period)

Material expenses:

EXIST Women provides each female entrepreneur with a €2,000 grant for material expenses. Participants do not have to submit a coaching or material expenses plan to the project management agency for this. Instead, the funding is provided to the higher education institutions as a lump sum amount. The aim is to support the female entrepreneurs in their personal qualification and help them prepare for the next startup activities to come. The startup network coordinates with the aspiring entrepreneur (and if necessary the mentor) to set down the entrepreneur’s roadmap and milestones for the project period and to plan the use of the material resources. The funding can be used for example towards:

  • Technical equipment
  • Material for prototypes
  • Travel costs
  • Attendance fees for events
  • Additional coaching

Female entrepreneurs seminar

EXIST Women includes participation in the centrally organised female entrepreneurs seminar, which is attended by a group of around 20-25 participants. The seminar is divided up into a 1.5 day in-person meeting in either Munich or Berlin and an approx. 2-hour online follow-up session three months later. This gives the entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with other women taking part in the programme in a safe space and to become aware of and strengthen their entrepreneurial soft skills and potential. The seminar is not meant to be a selection process but to provide targeted support for the development of the women’s entrepreneurial mindset.

+ When will I receive an invitation to the seminar?

The participants will receive an invitation to the seminar within the first three months of the start of the EXIST Women funding period.

Female entrepreneurs forum

The aspiring entrepreneurs will take part in 1 to 2 sessions of the centrally organised female entrepreneurs forum during the 12-month skills development period. The forum is organised as an in-person meeting in Berlin and attended by up to 200 participants. It is an opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills, network and with other participants and well-known female entrepreneurs. The event regularly focuses on topics such as strategic networking, financing, how to approach investors, and business models for ecologically and socially sustainable businesses.

Meeting of the EXIST Women higher education and research institutions

The higher education and research institutions receiving funding under EXIST Women meet 1-2 times each year in a special format – the EXIST Workshops. The institutions receiving funding help one another to adopt measures that have proved to be particularly effective for the support of female entrepreneurs elsewhere. In addition, institutions can engage in dialogue on the issue of female entrepreneurship during online workshops.

Project conclusion

12 months after the beginning of funding, the institutions submit the entrepreneurs’ ‘business idea outlines’ (one-pager), which provide a concise description of the business idea.
The institution also submits an ‘evaluation of the measure’. This document lists the type of measures used by the institution to support female entrepreneurs, how often and to what extent the measure was used, and how many participants took part. It also provides an opportunity to take stock and provide feedback on the contents and formats that have proved to be particularly effective and put forward ideas on how the concept could be improved. Measures that have proved to be particularly successful are submitted by the startup networks via the ‘survey on good practice measures’ which is available online on www.exist.de. The institutions can also make suggestions on how the EXIST Women funding measure could be enhanced following the conclusion of the model phase.