Berlin-based Israeli Mali Baum wants to achieve real changes and innovations for women and diversity in business and technology. For this, she launched her start-up WLounge not only four years ago. She’s also hosting the Tech Awards Gala in her hometown on Saturday. Motto: Women are the engine of innovation.
“My vision is that more women have the courage and the vision to set up. I hope to gradually come one step closer to this vision,“ she says. Especially in the technology industry, which is still dominated by men, she sees a lot of catching up to do and has set out to ensure more diversity there.
Because the gap is currently large: only just under 18 percent of all founders were female in 2021, notes the German Startup Monitor. And the proportion of women has been increasing only minimally for years.
“There’s nothing women can’t do compared to men and vice versa. But the men have more support and a better ecosystem, which makes it easier for them, “ says the 45-year-old, who has already founded seven times in her life, including the Israeli toy manufacturer Beezeebee.
With her company WLounge, she wants to remedy the situation and specifically takes founders by the hand. Her network now includes 25,000 people – many of them men – and has ambassadors in cities such as Tel Aviv, New York and Zurich. Baum is about bringing founders together with investors – through learning programs, conferences, workshops or events such as the Tech Awards Gala.
Special support for mothers
The award ceremony will take place for the second time in the capital. Selected start-ups receive a stage for this at the luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria. The patronage was taken over by a well-known entrepreneur: Brigitte Mohn, member of the Board of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Series founder and tech Awards organizer Mali Baum.
“We want to honor the makers behind the products,” says Baum, who is expecting a total of around 400 guests. There could be more than just nice dinner talks: at the last award ceremony, two start-ups even found fresh investors.
Stefan Franzke, Managing Director at Wirtschaftsförderung Berlin Partner, celebrates the idea and the start-up scene in the metropolis. He appreciates Mali Baum as “an outstanding personality who makes a huge contribution with her projects – especially the Tech Awards.“
The mother of two has set out to encourage other mothers in particular to win a place in the world of work and entrepreneurship. “We are not encouraging and supporting mothers enough to return to work. We don’t show them enough how to combine motherhood and a career,“ she says, urging women and mothers to capitalize on their position and not behave like bitches. So far, unfortunately, it is “not common that women support women”.
In her opinion, families and schools should already address the issue of diversity. “Germany is still quite lagging behind,” says Baum. It could not be that 80 men for every two women sometimes came to events of the Hasso Plattner Institute. “Women immediately feel like outsiders.“
Crisis should not be an obstacle for female founders
Baum does not take time to sit back. In addition to WLounge, she runs an accelerator program for women who want to invest in start-ups themselves. “Ultimately, the one who is on the money tap decides,” says Baum. Well, if something changes there, something changes in the ecosystem as well.
In order to accelerate the change, the committed entrepreneur is also raising money for a fund of funds that is only intended to support female founders. According to the “State of European Tech 2021” survey by venture capitalist Atomico, start-ups whose founding teams were exclusively female accounted for only 1.1 percent of the total venture capital collected last year.
“What motivates me is that I see my influence directly – in the form of exits, growth or progress. Together we can ensure more diversity,“ Baum is sure.
She also does not want to be stopped by the general crisis mood. Venture capitalists continued to invest. Perhaps everything is developing a little slower because of the crisis, but there is no reason to be pessimistic.