About WEstart

About WEstart

westartleft WEstart is a privately funded, year-long pilot project based out of the European Women’s Lobby Secretariat in Brussels. The core aim of the EWL project is to gain a better understanding of the situation and state of play of women’s social entrepreneurship in Europe. This pilot project, which focuses on ten European countries, is the first step in a longer term strategy to help foster women’s social entrepreneurship by connecting social entrepreneurs and advocating for policy change that supports women’s leadership in this growing sector.

The Problem:

Within the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy, entrepreneurship is seen as a means of boosting employment and in particular to reach the European employment target of 75% for women and men throughout the EU by 2020. However, little focus is given to social entrepreneurship as a means of binding the social fabric to build sustainable communities and a means of also reaching another European target which consists in lifting 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. Additionally, while many initiatives to foster women’s entrepreneurship have been developed at the European level, with the support of the European Commission, it is difficult to obtain an overall picture of women’s entrepreneurship in general and women’s social entrepreneurship in particular.

The Project:

The current project therefore proposes to bridge the gap in gathering evidence and knowledge with regards to women’s social entrepreneurship in Europe. This will subsequently support opportunities to further develop mutual learning, transnational partnerships, mentoring, transferring knowledge and skills, identifying good practices and providing new employment and business opportunities to women across Europe.

The project consists of carrying out a mapping of what currently exists, where women’s social entrepreneurship is located and its breath in terms of 10 Member States of the EU.

Mapping women’s social entrepreneurship Europe and disseminating results.


  • Identify and map women’s social entrepreneurship initiatives in Europe in 10 countries as a pilot which could subsequently be carried out in the remaining EU Member States and accession countries,
  • Establish an overall picture of the activities carried out and how these respond to women’s empowerment in and sustainable growth of communities,
  • Establish a data bank of female social entrepreneurs
  • Give visibility to women’s social entrepreneurship within entrepreneurship development in Europe
  • Provide links and facilitate networking between and among women’s entrepreneurship in Europe
  • Identify key recommendations for policy makers to support women’s social entrepreneurship in Europe

Duration: 12 months: September 2014 – September 2015

Geographical spread: 10 EU Member States: France and Germany; Bulgaria and Hungary; Italy and Spain; Sweden and Lithuania; Ireland and the United Kingdom.

As a result of the mapping, the following outputs will be produced:

  • National Fact Sheets
  • Eurpean Fact Sheets
  • Final Report
  • Communication Strategy
  • Digital Learning Platform Consisting of Interactive Map, Database of Women Social Entrepreneurs, PDF versions of Fact Sheets and Report, and Networking Tools

The aim is to produce user-friendly documents to facilitate easy access to information. The final report will contain an analysis of the trends, general findings and recommendations as well as an evaluation of the project. A conference will be held at the end of the project to disseminate the results of the mapping and to launch the digital learning platform.


Meet WEstart Project Manager Emily Usher Shrair

emily ushrair Emily Usher Shrair

Contact : usher[at]womenlobby.org // +32 2 217 90 20

Project Manager Emily Usher Shrair is a British-American gender specialist and social entrepreneur with expertise in women’s social enterprise and socio-economic policy. She recently completed a Masters degree in Gender and International Development on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Institute of Development in Brighton, UK, and has a BA in Gender Studies and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College in the United States. Emily has six years of experience leading communications, development and advocacy project for women’s rights and gender equality focused organization throughout the United States and Latin America, most recently managing digital communications for the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York City.

Additionally, she has worked as a Project Manager for international consulting firm Inventive Problem Solving, and serves as a communications adviser to the firm. She is the founder and CEO of two social businesses, Girl Got Grants, a feminist fundraising collective, and Feminist Job Board, an international feminist job search site.

Latest video

EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

Facebook Feed

Get Involved