Startup Lisboa is taking practical steps toward promoting entrepreneurship among women through various initiatives, particularly in the field of sustainability, which is the centerpiece of Lisbon’s green agenda for 2020, says the CEO of the leading incubator in the Portuguese capital.

In an exclusive interview with Via News, Miguel Fontes said female entrepreneurship is a “huge” challenge worldwide and there is still a long way to go despite the gains made over the past several years.

The technology was a male-dominant field until recently and that is why not many women have ventured into the world of startups, which mainly revolves around technological innovation, he added. “But it’s changing very quickly.”

Miguel says this change is visible in polytechnic institutions in Portugal, such as the well-known Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, which had a very low percentage of female students until around 10 years ago.

“It’s no longer like that,” he noted, adding that the ripple effect of the new trend will be felt soon.

“But for now what we are doing already is to try to promote some concrete initiatives to [encourage] women to become entrepreneurs.”

Lisboa Green Capital 2020

The CEO of Startup Lisboa said one of their initiatives is aimed at motivating women to come up with business ideas that could contribute to Lisboa Green Capital 2020 projects.

In 2018, Lisbon was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2020 by the EU commissioner for environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries in recognition of its efforts toward sustainable land use, sustainable urban mobility, green growth, eco-innovation, climate change adaptation, and waste minimization.

Apart from the title, the city received a financial incentive of €350,000 from the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to kick-start its green capital year.

The Green Capital flags installed across Lisbon are made with plastic recovered from the ocean. (Photo credit Twitter account of @GreenLisboa2020)
The Green Capital flags installed across Lisbon are made with plastic recovered from the ocean. (Photo credit Twitter account of @GreenLisboa2020)

Green Accomplishments

According to the EU, Lisbon was the first capital in Europe to sign the New Covenant of Mayors for Climate Change and Energy in 2016 after achieving a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2002 to 2014 as well as reducing energy consumption by 23% and water consumption by 17% from 2007 to 2013.

“It has a clear vision for sustainable urban mobility, with measures to restrict car use and prioritize cycling, public transport, and walking.” The bloc wrote in a 2018 report while hailing the fact that Lisbon has a successful bike-sharing scheme and has one of the world’s largest networks of electric vehicle charging points.

It added that the Portuguese city has a “strong” commitment to “sustainable land use with particular focus on establishing green infrastructure, or connected networks of green space, to counteract the effects of climate change such as drought, extreme heat, and storm flooding.”

Proactive Approach

Miguel said Startup Lisboa intends to foster female entrepreneurship proactively rather than sitting idly by and waiting for the change to happen itself.

“We need to accelerate that process,” he noted, adding that great emphasis will be put on supporting creative ideas that are in line with the principles of the circular economy—which aims to reduce pressure on natural and freshwater resources and ecosystems.

However, he explained that they will not be “less selective” when it comes to female entrepreneurs just because of their gender but “we will double our efforts to support them.”