Vodafone Institute Launches the Next Round of F-LANE

Leveraging the Impact of Startups With a Female Empowerment Focus


F-LANE, Europe’s first accelerator with a focus on social ventures that utilise technology to empower women worldwide, which was initiated by the Vodafone Institute, is getting ready for the next round. The program mission is to foster the participation of women in technological development and improve the situation of girls and women around the world through technology. F-LANE is collaborating with the Impact Hub Berlin and the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie to source innovative technology startups around the world that focus on women, provide an enterprising solution to a social problem and have the potential to make a wide impact. Online applications can now be submitted for the 6-week accelerator program starting 9 October 2017, in Berlin to http://www.f-lane.com. The application is open until 24 July 2017.

Alice Steinbrück, Director of Strategy and Programs, Vodafone Institute:

“The first round of F-LANE was phenomenal, with inspirational startup ideas, fantastic female entrepreneurs and a big media echo. That made our decision to hold a second round very easy. And we obviously still have a long way to go in eliminating gender-specific disparities, particularly in the technology sector.”

In her keynote speech at the “Women in Tech: Breaking the Glass Ceiling” conference in Berlin, which took place parallel to the last F-LANE accelerator, the German Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Manuela Schwesig, called for more support to women in the technology sector. She said, “Digital change will have lasting effects on our society and the world of work. We have to empower women to shape and participate in this new world so that opportunities can be exploited and threats can be averted. We cannot allow our digital economy to fall even further behind. Hardly anywhere is so persistently prejudiced against women, and the number of disadvantaged women is alarming. The most pressing issues to be resolved are: equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities in management and equal access to finance.”

The startups in the first round of F-LANE included Wazi Vision, Ask without Shame (both Uganda), Securella (Morocco), DigiSitter (Germany) and Lensational (Hong Kong).

Only around nine percent of technology startups worldwide are founded by women. The “New World With Old Roles?” study, which was recently published by the Vodafone Institute, reveals that many female startup founders feel at a disadvantage over their male colleagues. “The popular cliché that there aren’t any women with tech expertise is outdated. To exploit the potential that already exists, the media, policy makers and investors have to change their tack,” said Alice Steinbrück, Author of the Vodafone Institute’s study.

“After we sent the call for proposals out via our global network, we ran an intensive programme with the finalists here in Berlin, including coaching, mentoring and training sessions, as well as embedding them into our local ecosystem of change makers. Their energy and their progress, even after a short period of time, was impressive,” says Leon Reiner, Founder of Impact Hub Berlin. “Now we are excited for round two of the F-LANE program”.

About 150 startups from 50 countries applied to join the accelerator in the first round of F-LANE. F-LANE sources innovative technological start-ups around the world that focus on women and provide an enterprising solution to a social problem. Their business concept should ideally have the potential to make a wide impact and empower girls and women through technology.

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