Launch for more female entrepreneurs in NZ

Launch for more female entrepreneurs in NZ

A nationwide search is underway to try and find New Zealand's next business leaders. But in an effort to address the issue of gender equality in business, there's a twist – only women can apply.

Those selected will be put through the pressure cooker in the country's first-ever female-founder business accelerator programme.

In just a few years business accelerator programmes have raised almost $1 billion worldwide.

Creative HQ runs Lightning Lab, one of the country's most successful business accelerators, but despite its success it says there is one thing it would like to change.

"What we've seen in the past is that we didn't have as many women in our programme as we would have liked," says Creative HQ CEO Stephan Korn.

Globally, men dominate business accelerator programmes, with women making up less than 20 percent.

That's why today Creative HQ has launched a nationwide call for a new programme targeting female entrepreneurs.

"So we wanted to address that and run a programme that is based entirely on woman founders and co-founders," says Mr Korn.

In 2013 a study into diversity in the workplace examined the financial performance of fortune in 500 companies.

The key finding was that women in leadership roles increased return on equity by at least 53 percent and return on sales by at least 42 percent.

"The environment that we're trying to build around this programme will definitely encourage women to build confidence and really bring amazing businesses to life," says Laura Reitel of Creative HQ.

The successful 10 teams will be plunged into a three-month mentoring programme before coming face-to-face with more than 60 wealthy investors in a Dragon's Den-type scenario.

But as Lightning Lab points out – highlighting its concerns about gender equality – 80 percent of those investors are men.

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