An ever-growing list of schemes and networks which support diverse and underrepresented founders in Europe’s tech ecosystem.
by: Amy Lewin, sifted.eu
22 min read
The bad news: Europe’s tech scene has a well-known diversity problem.
The good news: over the past few years, a host of new initiatives — from accelerator programmes to support networks, grant schemes to events — have sprung up to boost the numbers of women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people starting and growing companies across the continent. There are also communities that work on upskilling those from diverse backgrounds, empower migrants and refugees and engage young people in tech.
Here is a living list of those 120 initiatives. Let us know who we’ve missed and we’ll add them.
Non-profit aiming to increase diversity in the tech sector through education and workshop initiatives.
A two-day conference on diversity and inclusion, held in Manchester.
An organisation promoting social, cultural and ethnic diversity in the digital sphere — through training and mentoring, running events and engaging with economic and political decision makers across France.
This newsletter-based initiative connects a 10k-strong network of members with companies to work for, scholarships, relevant events and speaking opportunities. Through a separate newsletter it also gives those companies a space to learn about diversity, equity and inclusion. There are six newsletters, including a student edition and a newsletter for allies to learn how to advocate for underrepresented groups in their workplace and sector.
DINT is a free online global community set up to make connections between people who care about diversity and inclusion in tech. DINT hosts a virtual meetup on the last Thursday of the month, and has a Slack group for day-to-day contact and conversation.
A safe environment with driven D&I champions sharing knowledge. Consists of a mix of founders of tech startups solving D&I challenges, corporates, NGOs, educational institutions, as well as D&I experts and up-and-coming D&I professionals.
Google’s London Campus supports diversity in tech. It regularly hosts #poctech meetups, Black and Good (a community for black social innovators), Womxn, Series Q (a network for LGBTQ people at startups) and YSYS events.
A for-profit social enterprise working to promote inclusivity in the tech sector, through talks, training and mentorship, run by Abadesi Osunsade.
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A movement challenging Finnish fast-growing tech companies to report their diversity data. Their website brings together studies and best practices for improving diversity in business.
Aims to “dispel certain myths about the tech/STEM industry” and make it as inclusive an industry as possible.
A recruitment site with a diversity focus, connecting companies and candidates in tech. Their catchphrase is “making tech more colourful” and they assess companies for culture and commitment to diversity before engaging.
A networking dinner series, promoting diversity and inclusion in tech. It’s active in several countries around the world, including Spain, France, the UK, Portugal and Germany.
A programme by Obra Social la Caixa that provides free advice to low-income and low-resource entrepreneurs (for example, people with disabilities, long-term unemployed, youth at risk of exclusion, gender violence victims, immigrants and former prisoners), and accompanies them through the founding process. They analyse the viability of the project and help find funds.
Started in 2018, Foundervine “helps diverse entrepreneurs build startups from scratch”. It runs a startup-building programme, educational masterclasses, festivals and training for corporates around the UK. It also runs a mentoring programme for young entrepreneurs; get involved here.
The Intrapreneurs Club partners with big companies to run accelerator programmes for diverse tech talent.
A two-part programme from government-backed organisation La French Tech to support aspiring entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in 13 regions.
The first phase — “Prepa” — helps founders prototype and test their business idea, supported by a €17k grant. The second phase, “Incubation”, is for early-stage businesses, and includes membership of a partner accelerator, access to financial and business experts, and introductions to investors and stakeholders. The first cohort is currently underway.
Supports underrepresented founders in London with everything from startup weekends to mentoring and free workspace.
Short for ‘Your Startup, Your Story’, YSYS is a community for founders and others working in tech who are interested in promoting diversity in the ecosystem. It hosts an extremely collaborative Slack community, runs a pre-accelerator to help 18 to 24 year olds launch businesses and TalentDoor, a series of career-focused workshops for diverse talent.
Venture capital and investing
The Angel Investing School, run by Andy Ayim, provides online webinars led by experienced angels, alongside a network of angels at a range of levels. It’s been backed by Google for Startups and the UK Business Angels Association. For £495 you can sign up for the next programme, which starts in September 2021.
Diversity VC is a non-profit organisation focused on — you guessed it — diversity, or the lack thereof, in venture capital. Sign up to gain access to its network as well as the ‘Pathway’, where it connects members with VC firms seeking to diversify their teams. Job postings are available for all to view, as well as reports on the state of diversity in VC.
Part of Diversity VC, this is a London-based internship and development programme which facilitates paid placements at top VC firms across Europe and the US, as well as preparatory masterclasses and personal development sessions. Its 2020 programme was 49% BAME, 47% women, 14% of whom have received social welfare and 20% of whom were the first in their family to go to university.
A nine-month, fully-funded VC fellowship which includes masterclasses, mentors, coaching, simulation investment committees and in-person retreats. It’s sponsored by a range of companies and has partnered with several VC firms, including Notion Capital, Seedcamp and Mangrove Capital — and designed to increase representation in VC across “any gender, ethnicity, geography, upbringing, age, neurodiversity, disability or belief system.” Sifted covered the fellowship earlier this year.
Newton is an initiative co-led by the London Business School and LocalGlobe VC. Its key aim is to make early-stage investing accessible to all through an investor training programme. It claims to be different from other VC training programmes in that it brings in academics for drills in key areas like strategy and finance, as well as bridging gaps in connection and knowledge between research and investment institutions. Interested? You can join the waitlist here and read Sifted’s coverage of the initiative here.
An annual event which brings together founders, investors, academics, industry and more to explore business opportunities in Africa’s tech ecosystem.
Pangea is a Norway-based accelerator program and an investment platform that matches African startups with investors.
AI, coding and programming
A coding school for women and non-binary people which runs in-person courses in London and a series of webinars.
This Barcelona-based initiative is an AI training campus dedicated to women in tech. It offers data science, UX/UI design, and product management courses for women, by women.
Codebar is a charity that runs free and regular programming workshops for underrepresented groups in the tech sector. It’s run over 1.5k workshops to date, is present across in 28 chapters and its network of 5k coaches have reached over 12k students.
Launched in 2015 by Entrepreneur First cofounders Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford, Code First Girls is a community interest organisation providing free coding courses to women and non-binaries. So far it has taught over 16k women to code, and it also helps women find jobs at tech companies.
Inspiring underrepresented teens of colour to pursue careers in tech, through events and workshops.
They’re looking to provide women with the skills to succeed in the job market. They host a mentorship programme and lots of events in Amsterdam. Here’s their meetup group.
Volunteer-run organisation hosting hundreds of events across Europe and beyond teaching women to build their first web application using HTML, CSS, Python and Django.
A group looking to close the gender gap in code. They host meetups for coders and everyone interested in code (men are welcome too!).
Hack’n’Lead — Switzerland
Switzerland’s first women-friendly hackathon.
As part of a wave of getting kids into coding, this initiative provides coding workshops for kids from age three to 11. It was cofounded by three London-based mothers in 2017, and its teaching team — 75% women and 44% from a “diverse background” — has since taught 3k kids to code, including 1k during the pandemic.
An international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. They have a series of meetups and/or a Facebook group for most countries in Europe (as well as elsewhere across the world).
Helps girls and women learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming and get introduced to the world of technology. Rails Girls was born in Finland, but nowadays is a global, non-profit volunteer community.
Rubik’s a startup dedicated to upskilling those from underrepresented groups in software development and data engineering — particularly focused on payments, fintech more generally and the gaming industry. Partnering with universities around the world, it assesses and connects graduates with companies in those sectors, as well as supporting their onboarding procedures.
A community-driven initiative bringing empowerment, knowledge and active collaboration via education, research, events (across Europe and beyond) and blogging. Their mission is to increase female representation and participation in AI.
Disabilities and neurodivergence
An offshoot of Tech London Advocates, Tech For disAbility promotes the belief that innovation can both benefit disabled communities and increase inclusion in startups. It does this in three ways: demonstrating new and emerging technologies; showcasing those startups; and leveraging disabled communities to improve tech and the industry’s culture.
A consultancy, founded in 2016, which works to empower disabled creatives.
This group is a big community (50k+ including allies) based in the US that is expanding to Europe. They host lots of summits and events and have a coding scholarship programme.
Race and ethnicity
A WhatsApp community for black founders and investors which has been growing through word-of-mouth since 2015.
“A tech festival by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage.” Held annually in London.
An annually updated list showcasing Asian women and men working in the UK tech sector.
Dubbed as “LinkedIn for black professionals”, BYP holds conferences, hosts a jobs board and runs a networking app, all to help young black professionals meet and support one another.
A non-profit organisation founded in 2016 which aims to increase the number of ethnic minorities entering the UK’s tech workforce. It runs four programmes, including a pre-accelerator, an internship scheme for university students and a coding event for school students.
A company which connects ethnic-minority owned businesses with global corporates. Based in Leicester.
Sonaaar is a platform which connects Black community leaders to a diaspora of professionals worldwide. Community organisers, professionals and allies can sign up and learn more about the work of Black communities and companies everywhere — currently its based in six different countries in Europe. The network is currently in beta, but you can join their very active waiting list here.
Focused on tech in Berlin and Paris, Tech In Colour is a network for tech leaders from underrepresented ethnicities and racial backgrounds. By joining the network, you’ll gain access to seminars exploring the tech ecosystem, tech talk sessions covering everything from IoT to VR and gaming, and professional workshops.
An independent organisation aiming to increase the number of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds working in tech, and founding tech businesses. It offers employer training, university programmes and mentorship.
Hosts events at tech companies (such as Uber and Microsoft) for black and ethnic minority women, and also offers career support, through mentorship and resources.
A meetup event for Muslims (and non-Muslims) to discuss, pitch and share ideas.
Migrants and refugees
A business incubator for people with a refugee or migrant background. It also runs workshops and training and mentoring schemes.
Charge is a 12-month startup incubator for first generation immigrants.
With hubs in Heidelberg and Berlin, the Migration Hub Network supports social innovators by providing training, mentorship, events and physical spaces where “migrapreneurs” can base their operations. Migration Hub defines its objective as to “support migrants in building their own opportunities”.
Founded by three Spanish entrepreneurs, this group provides training in tech skills to kids, teenagers and young adults in refugee camps, to unlock their digital talent and connect with companies that need these types of skills.
A non-profit school that, among many things, runs technology workshops, offers online courses, organises company and conference field trips, and provides career counselling to primarily individuals of migrant or refugee backgrounds. ReDI has schools in Berlin, Munich and Copenhagen.
A talent accelerator in Helsinki, which aims to provide the startup community with the skilled talent it needs. It does this by helping skilled immigrants move into tech, running training programmes with corporate partners for people to learn new skills or improve those they have, and encouraging talent to consider a career in tech.
Operating in Berlin and Stuttgart, SINGA Business Lab is an incubator affiliated with the non-governmental organisations SINGA Deutschland that links local professionals with entrepreneurs from migrant or refugee backgrounds to develop their ideas into innovative businesses. Past projects include Niuversity, an online education platform that teaches professional skills in Arabic.
An organisation which supports refugees by, among other things, helping them launch businesses. Active in eight cities across France.
A free one-year programme for founders of early-stage startups from underprivileged backgrounds. Run by startup mega campus Station F in Paris.
Founded in 2015, this non-profit organisation offers entrepreneurs in suburban and rural areas training and workshops.
An association formed in 2017 that hopes to inspire a generation of entrepreneurs in the suburbs. It runs mentoring programmes and events.
Helps women in tech gain public speaking experience and skills, to counter the underrepresentation of women onstage at conferences.
A platform which aims to support women in tech — through educational podcasts, networking and working with industry stakeholders — and reach an equal gender balance in tech by 2050.
Born out of the founders’ network Founders Forum, accelerateHER is a programme to empower women in tech. It runs a series of festivals and conferences for women around the world, and counts Cherie Blair, Justine Roberts and Martha Lane Fox as advisors.
A global online community for women in tech, founded in 2013 and run by a team of volunteers in London. Also holds an annual conference.
A global organisation that is known for the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a massive gathering of women technologists. There are are a series of AnitaB.org local communities in various cities.
An initiative by the City of Stockholm to support equal opportunities for women and men. Over 100 tech companies have joined and declared themselves ‘A Woman’s Place’, including local unicorns Spotify, Klarna, iZettle and King. Its website has resources for all companies looking to improve their gender equality.
A working group to promote the voices of women in the Barcelona tech community, under the umbrella of Barcelona Tech City, a non-profit organisation of more than 800 companies.
An advocacy group for better gender balance and equality in tech.
Funded by the European Union, this seven-week healthtech and biotech-focused programme runs in Galway in Ireland, Coimbra in Portugal, Barcelona and London. During the bootcamp, female founders can access training, 1-to-1s with senior founders and two pitch events. Any female founder who’s already generating revenue, actively seeking between €500k to €5m in growth capital and focused on any medical tech is eligible to apply.
A Spanish association of women executives, chief executives and managing directors, whose goal is to increase the number of women in senior management positions as well as in corporates’ boards of directors.
A not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building a community for women in cards, fintech and payments in Europe, which organises local networking evenings, workshops, annual events, awards and research.
Currently active in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht and Eindhoven, Female Ventures supports women in leadership roles with an online community, one-on-one mentorship and events. It also supports the Fundright initiative.
Femstreet began as a newsletter for female founders and investors, and has grown into a global community, with events in the US and Europe, and an invite-only Slack community for active newsletter readers.
A community for “future female CEOs”, founded by serial entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid, which runs adhoc events. It also has an active Facebook group where members ask for and give each other business support.
Community of leaders from around the world who are dedicated to supporting one another via executive coaching, global expeditions, impact accelerators and personal boards (groups of women from across sectors who get together to serve as each other’s ongoing “Personal Board of Directors”).
A non-profit that aims to tackle gender inequality in tech by educating and empowering women who are passionate about technology. It offers events and workshops.
InspiringFifty’s a non-profit that aims to make women in tech more visible, was set up by Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters in the Netherlands. Now it has chapters all over the world. People can nominate themselves or a woman in tech to its annual list.
A global community of ambitious entrepreneurs, investors and executives that has created its own fund to help close the gap on female funding.
A community and web resource that draws attention to female talent in tech. The group organises events and has published a booklet to distribute around schools in Portugal.
Pushing for gender equality in the workplace.
Organisation that aims to empower women by bringing diversity to the technology scene. They host monthly events that bridge the gap between STEM and entrepreneurship. Here’s their meetup page.
She Tech Italy is a community founded with the aim of supporting women in technology, digital and entrepreneurship, through networking events, workshops and professional opportunities.
An organisation seeking to increase the number of women in entrepreneurship and boost the percentage of funding that is invested into female founders.
Stealth Mode is a three-month mentorship program, initiated by Factory Berlin in cooperation with Google for Startups & Henkel dx, for women and non-binary founders looking to take their early-stage tech startups to the next level; actively looking for BIPOC founders to participate in the program.
Swedish group supporting women in tech via events and the ‘Techionista Academy’, which provides one-day masterclasses, week-long bootcamps or up to three months’ training.
An independent engineering consultancy company that specialises in inspiring women to pursue a career in STEM.
“Think” runs workshops and events to encourage women and girls to consider careers in tech.
Founded in 2014, Venture Ladies is a Berlin-based community and incubator designed to support women in startups and venture capital. In addition to various events and workshops, Venture Ladies hosts monthly meetups in either English or German depending on attendee preferences.
A network of more than 1.6k women and men dedicated to greater diversity in tech and innovation. Currently has chapters in Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva, and is expanding into other cities in Switzerland and beyond.
Regular meetups for women in fintech in Paris.
Focused on the digital identity sector, this non-profit is focused on instilling intersectionality in digital identity solutions. Run by volunteers and supported by tech giants like Microsoft and Mastercard, it has 2k members globally.
With 3.2k members across the public and private sector and academia, predominantly based in Germany, Switzerland and the UK, WiM is committed to increasing the visibility of women in the mobility sector.
Non-profit dedicated to educating, equipping and empowering women and girls with the necessary skills to succeed in STEM career fields. Their work includes education in schools as well as mentoring, incubation and acceleration camps, networking events and research. Events are located across Europe.
Open community running events, online forums, a Slack group and a mentorship programme to build relationships between female founders.
Female founders and entrepreneurs
Created in February 2021, this LinkedIn group for female founders, women interested in founding a company and women who hope to join an early-stage team, now has 650+ members. It’s targeted at women with at least four years of professional experience and is a space for discussion and connection, as well as offering funding opportunities and advice. It was set up by former N26 CPO and current Accel scout Georgie Smallwood.
A community that is active around the world but also has a home in Spain. It is all about empowering women and promoting female founders in media.
An event series for female founders to pitch their ideas and, for a successful few, take part in a trip to New York.
Enterprising Women is a programme and bursary scheme that claims to be the UK’s largest network of women founders with 45k members. It wants to see a founder landscape where 45% are women and over 20% are from a BAME background. The network costs £2 a month, allowing access to newsletters, guides, mentors, PR support, workshops, growth programmes and a network of local ‘Business Hubs’ across the UK.
A hub for female founders in Vienna, which runs regular events, an accelerator programme for startups from all over Europe and beyond, and a corporate leadership programme.
A 13-week accelerator programme for early-stage startups, specifically addressing the challenges facing female entrepreneurs. Based in Dublin.
A monthly meetup for women in tech in Manchester.
An intentionally inclusive accelerator for women-led startups that focus on social impact or tech. Provides communication and confidence training as well as giving access to capital and important business tools.
A free, intensive one-week accelerator programme for female founders, set up in 2018 by numerous government organisations.
An international movement organising networking events for female entrepreneurs with European chapters in Algarve, Barcelona, Graz, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Utrecht.
Grace Summer Camp — Germany
A two-and-a-half week bootcamp for female founders from the DACH region to develop their startup idea.
Hatch Enterprise has been supporting female founders since 2013, and runs various incubator and accelerator programmes.
This is an initiative devoted to empowering women as leaders and potential founders. It trains kids, teenagers and adults.
Non-profit organisation Wissensfabrik runs an annual programme offering startup founders a chance to meet with and be mentored by the CEOs of more established companies. This year it is looking for startups with at least one female founder.
An incubator for female founders which runs several programmes across France, catering to different business stages and sectors. It also runs programmes for corporates and “intrapreneurs” — those innovating within a business.
Women in VC and investing
A community of senior women investors from across Europe (managing partners, founders of VC funds and business angels). Their mission is to strengthen the presence of women in the VC industry in Europe.
An initiative backed by 25 Dutch VCs to improve both the gender balance within their own workforce and of the companies they invest in. (In 2017, less than 2% of venture capital in the Netherlands went to female founders.)
With an ambition to ensure women make up at least 20% of senior positions in VC, Level 20 is a non-profit that empowers women to get into private equity by providing them with support. It also provides data on the industry and, in a report published earlier this year, found that while women make up 20% of European investment teams, only 15% hold senior positions. It now has around 2.5k members and is backed by over 80 private equity firms.
Women Angels for STEAM is an international community of women in angel investing across STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, maths, arts and architecture). Founded in Spain, the community gives angels a platform to invest as well as offering seed capital and coaching to seed-stage startups. So far it’s invested in blockchain certification company Vottun and Bioo, a Barcelona-based cleantech, amongst others.
An education initiative run by Barcelona’s City Hall, which runs from primary to secondary school with the aim of narrowing the gender gap of women in tech.
This social enterprise works with young women to inspire and support them into science, technology, engineering and maths careers.
A community for recent graduates and university students from underrepresented groups in tech.
This article was last updated on 28 May 2021.