Nowadays the digital economy is moving fast from being a specific segment to being the economy. Almost everything that we do today somehow involves or builds upon ICT.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) provide essential enabling support across all economic, political, cultural and social activities, as well as being a production sector in their own right. During the last two decades the digital communication technologies, the world-wide-web, the cloud, have all helped to create a more level playing field in the economy and society.

Companies, projects, and initiatives can now be faster and more easily created, financed, developed, and promoted with the help of ICT. eCommerce, eLearning, eHealth, eMoney, social media are all enabling more and more of us to swiftly access goods, services, information, markets and audiences from all over the world. Numerous barriers and inequalities have been brought down or significantly reduced through ICT.

However, women still play too small a role in the digital economy, particularly in Europe, where women represent only 19 per cent of web entrepreneurs when compared to an average of 33 per cent in the US. We do not have as yet any clear statistics on Malta but initial insights from the Malta IT Agency (MITA) and other local digital entrepreneurship supporters indicate something around five per cent or even less.

In this context and in the framework of the Startup Europe Week 2017, Ascend Consulting – the Malta representative of the Women Web-Entrepreneurs Hubs European network – has teamed up with MITA Innovation Hub and Malta Communications Authority, two key stakeholders in stimulating digital entrepreneurship and innovation in Malta, to organise a round-table discussion on the topic. This will take place on Thursday, February 9, from 2.15pm to 5.30pm, at the MITA Data Centre in Santa Venera.

The scope of the event is to bring together all Maltese stakeholders interested in or already involved in the promotion, facilitation, support or actual implementation of women web- entrepreneurship, so as to discuss the current situation in Malta.

On one side, we need to understand the interest but also the challenges and support needs faced by current, previous and aspiring women web-entrepreneurs.

On the other side we also need to raise awareness and understanding of the role, the current activities and potential further contributions towards increased women web-entrepreneurship of the various support organisations and other stakeholders.

Ultimately, the aim is to use the gathering to identify some key points of action and the next steps ahead necessary to further women web-entrepreneurship in Malta. These can then be translated into an action manifesto to serve as a base for the development of future projects and initiatives in this sense.

The expected participants at this round-table discussion are the representatives of business, women and education communities, incubators, accelerators, co-working and networking spaces, women web-entrepreneurs (be they current, previous or aspiring ones), experienced ICT entrepreneurs, business owners or managers that can act as role models and mentors, business angels and other finance providers, and other entrepreneurship promoters and supporters, including the media.

It is important to highlight that this is not a women-only targeted event, but one aiming to see how we all can ensure a more representative involvement of the female half of the population in entrepreneurial activities and the digital economy. Particularly needed in this sense is the involvement of men that can act as supporters and promoters of this effort, and those who are open to mentoring.

As Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook rightly said: “It should be a badge of honour for men to mentor women”.

Of course, women entrepreneurs and ICT professionals are also very much needed as role models and supporters.

Participation in the event is free of charge. However, due to seating limitations, prior registration is required on Eventbrite or by e-mail to Anamaria Magri Pantea on: anamaria@ascendconsulting.eu.

Anamaria Magri Pantea is founder and managing consultant of Ascend Consulting and is specialised in  innovation management, business development and access to funding.

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