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Dell to bring women's funding event to Dublin

Irish businesswomen will attend tech giant's female entrepreneur gathering this week, writes Samantha McCaughhren

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Delegates at last year’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event, held in San Francisco.

Delegates at last year’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event, held in San Francisco.

Delegates at last year’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event, held in San Francisco.

Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (Dwen) is to bring a global funding event to Ireland next year after a survey found Dublin ranked relatively poorly for female entrepreneurs.

Last year Dublin ranked 34th out on 50 on the annual Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index - the only global gender-specific index that looks at a city's ability to attract and foster growth of women-owned firms. It looks at access to capital, talent and the culture for women.

Dell, which hosts its annual global summit this week in Canada, is currently running a global series of events on 'women funding women' which will come to Dublin in January, said Ingrid Devin, director of Dwen.

"Last year we did seven cities around the world, this year there are nine and we picked Dublin as one of those cities," said Devin, who is from Bray, Co Wicklow.

The vast majority of venture capital funding goes to men and Devin said that while Dell cannot 'fix' that, it is trying to offer some solutions to female entrepreneurs.

"One of the ways women are getting funding is through women investors and we're trying to highlight the stories of those women investors and encourage more women to get investors - a lot of women don't know how," she said.

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Ingrid Devin, of Dell

Ingrid Devin, of Dell

Ingrid Devin, of Dell

"The other side of it is that a lot of women who go for funding, think the reason they don't get the funding is down to them, not realising that this is a gender challenge, that there is a lot of bias, conscious and unconscious."

During the event in Dublin, women will share stories of how they found funding as an entrepreneur or agreed to provide funding as an investor.

Devin said that some female entrepreneurs were 'terrified' of having investors join them.

"But the reality is if you're really going to grow in scale and go international, you're probably going to need funding at some stage."

There will also be some pitching opportunities at the Dublin event.

Devin took over Dwen last year and told the Sunday Independent that the network was developed nine years ago after Dell observed research consistently highlighting how difficult it is for female entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to funding.

"In some countries you have a cultural challenge of being a women - and that varies around the world - and then there can be an economic challenge."

"And I am still told by women that when they are planning to go for funding they are advised to bring a man with them."

She said this is a current problem, not one from 10 years ago.

"We wanted to bring women together so they could help each other and bring in the experts to help solve some of the challenges they are facing," said Devin.

The global summit, which is now run annually and begins this evening in Toronto, remains an intimate event attended by 130 entrepreneurs and investors from 17 countries.

Last year was the first that Irish women attended and two entrepreneurs will be at this year's event.

This year Julie Brien and Dr Roisin Molloy, co-founders of Trimedika, the Belfast- based medical-device firm will attend for a second time.

Devin said that Ireland was chosen to become involved due in part to Dell's involvement in Ireland but also because the entrepreneurial scene here is strong.

"There are a lot of really fantastic entrepreneurs in Ireland who are under the radar," she said.

"Ireland needs to do a better job of profiling some of our really good businesswomen and entrepreneurs.

"There are fantastic women out there that we don't know about."

Devin joined Dell in 2005, having previously worked for Accenture, leading diversity and inclusion for Dell in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Her appointment to Dwen marked the first time someone from outside the US has run the network and Devin is working to expand the number of countries involved.

Sunday Indo Business