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INTERVIEW | 5 questions to Daniel Castro Vencu Öhrlund on unequal entrepreneurship

Daniel Castro Vencu Öhrlund believes that women's ideas are important in the current major green transition. Photo: Flaktrim Hani.

The government recently commissioned the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship. But what else can policy do to reduce gender inequality in entrepreneurship? We ask two opposition parties – this time Daniel Castro Vencu Öhrlund, Member of Parliament for the Social Democrats and deputy member of the Committee on Industry and Trade.

What is equal entrepreneurship for you?

– When women and men have the same opportunities and conditions to realize their ideas. And we are certainly not there today.

What are your reflections on the Expert Panel’s answers to the questions on unequal entrepreneurship?

– In general, I agree with the problem and what needs to be done to address it. In particular, public funding should be targeted at women entrepreneurs in women-dominated sectors. We know that men generally have larger professional networks and share a lot of knowledge and contacts with each other. It puts women who want to become entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.

– But I’m a bit surprised by Carin Holmqvist’s view that entrepreneurship is not a gender equality issue, and that there is no intrinsic value in running a business. I do not agree with that. Because as long as half the population is severely underrepresented in the development of innovations and other things that advance the development of society and humanity, that’s a problem in my opinion. We live in a world where women want to see their ideas realized and where women’s ideas are needed.

What do you think needs to be done to make entrepreneurship more gender equal? And what are the concrete proposals of the Social Democrats?

– Efforts need to be as concrete as possible, for example, we need to review the various social security systems for small businesses. If they are better, it benefits women. When we were in government, we carried out a study on SGI for small businesses, but never completed it. I think it needs to be taken further.

– We should also look at how government venture capital can be better targeted to women. Politics shouldn’t really interfere with who gets what, but when the business community fails to deliver on gender equality in business, politics must act.

– There needs to be wording about promoting women’s entrepreneurship in the letters of appropriation to all authorities. There are structures in society that cause us to have unequal entrepreneurship, and we need to work on a broad front with this. At the same time, it is important to identify areas that are particularly important for women to have the same conditions and opportunities to start and run businesses, and to make targeted efforts there. For example, we want to look at highly innovative companies, where women are severely underrepresented.

– I would also like to say that what worries me most right now about this issue is that there is a political conflict going on that I think is not highlighted enough. And it’s that the Sweden Democrats don’t think there should be initiatives to promote women’s entrepreneurship. This affects the proposals made by the government. Letters of regulation – which are not a budgetary issue – give assignments to authorities, but too little is currently being done in this area. This is regrettable. But Vinnova, for example, has written in the strategic innovation programs that this is an area to be taken into account. It would be better if there were concrete tasks from the government.

What would you politicians need to know more about from research in order to make decisions that contribute to more equal entrepreneurship – in other words, what areas do you think there is a lack of research on?

– I would like to know why more men than women go directly from education to entrepreneurship. What is the path from education to entrepreneurship for each gender? Highly innovative companies such as startups and scaleups are male-dominated. Unicorns as well. This is despite the fact that more women than men study in higher education. This is proof that something is wrong. Women have similar ideas but we know that they don’t have the same access to capital.

Several researchers and other experts believe that the measures implemented in recent decades to increase gender equality in entrepreneurship have had little or no lasting effects over time. What is your comment on that?

– It is about priorities. And it’s not just about focusing on women’s entrepreneurship, we need to identify all areas that relate to women’s entrepreneurship in one way or another. I come back to the highly innovative companies, because they are an important part of the massive green transition we are undertaking. We need to bring women on board, otherwise we will lose a lot of good ideas that the world and humanity needs,” says Daniel Castro Vencu Öhrlund.

Read also:

EXPERTPANEL | On unequal entrepreneurship

INTERVIEW | 5 questions to Ebba Busch on gender inequality in entrepreneurship

INTERVIEW | 5 questions to Elisabeth Thand Ringqvist on gender inequality in entrepreneurship