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Alibaba launches business academy for female entrepreneurs in Europe

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Over 10 weeks, participants will be able to hear testimonials from small business owners and connect with a community of industry leaders, investors, mentors and organisations working to increase gender equality in decision making.

Those who join will explore modules covering leadership, negotiation, strategy, business and financial models, funding and communications. The academy will welcome 40 female-led companies from across Europe.

The launch of AWE follows a recent Europe-wide survey of female business leaders commissioned by Alibaba.com; 94% of respondents said societal expectations and gender stereotypes were significant barriers to business leadership.

It also found that 63% have encountered challenges where gender has been ”perceived as a disadvantage” and 36% believe there is “insufficient representation” of women in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the EU.

However, 48% of SMEs believe gender contributes to entrepreneurial failure, compared to larger companies where 82% believe this.

Alibaba said the research suggests SMEs need to develop a more gender-diverse workforce and they could take a “leading role when it comes to promoting gender equality more broadly across the business landscape”.

Alibaba.com marketing director in Europe Michela Rubegni said: “By giving women entrepreneurs the tools and knowledge to empower themselves, we believe that we can ultimately contribute to a more inclusive and prosperous global economy.

“With the launch of the AWE initiative, our aim is to draw upon our two decades of experience in enabling global trade and provide participants with the necessary support, resources, and networking opportunities to thrive in today’s competitive landscape, overcoming gender-related obstacles. We are looking forward to connecting with all the entrepreneurs that will join us in this exciting journey of learning and growth.”

Applications for AWE are open until June 28 and programmr activities are expected to start in autumn.

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