Please note the event will take place live in Brussels
President of the European Economic and Social Committee
Christa Schweng has been the President of the European Economic and Social Committee since October 2020. She has been an EESC member for 22 years, working as rapporteur for many opinions. Her previous functions within the EESC include president of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship and chair the Labour Market Observatory.
Ms Schweng gained deep expertise in social and employment issues, working as an advisor both at EU level and in her native Austria. Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. She has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995 and has held every three years the rotating presidency of the Board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work since 2001. She chaired the SMEunited Social Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2009.
Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the European Commission
Hubert is Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the European Commission since July 2020. Before he was Director for services in the internal market in the same Directorate-General. From 2010 to 2014, he was Chief of Staff for the European Commissioner for regional policy. He also worked in the European Commission in the areas of competition policy, maritime affairs and fisheries as well as external relations, and in the Austrian Department of Economic Affairs in the area of public procurement control. Hubert is Austrian and studied law in Innsbruck, Paris and Madrid.
President of the European Small Business Alliance
For the last eight years, David has been the President of the European Small Business Alliance which represents approx. 1million small and micro businesses from across Europe and is based in Brussels. He previously sat on the UK Federation of Small Businesses English and National Policy Committees chairing the Environment and Energy Policy Unit and then the EU and International Affairs Policy Unit, he also has been a member of the Executive Board of the Flock Association of Europe since 2005. David is a member of West Midlands Business Forum, a group representing all the major business organisations in central England.
Jenny Tooth OBE
Chief Executive at UK Business Angels Association,
Business Angels Europe
“Delighted to be speaking with leading women in finance at the WEGate Summit on how to improve the opportunities for female founders to access the funding they need to grow their business.”
Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Technological University Dublin
“Happiness is a positive cash flow”
Jacqueline Winstanley FRSA
Founder & CEO, Universal Inclusion & The Inclusive Entrepreneur
“It is important we address and support the impact of intersectionality within the female entrepreneurship ecosystem. When we do this, the resultant innovation is filled with endless possibilities and increases inclusive economic growth.”
Secretary General at SMEunited
Véronique Willems is representing Crafts and SMEs in Europe as the Secretary General of SMEunited (formerly known as UEAPME) since January 2017. Beforehand and as from 2009, she was the Head of European affairs at UNIZO (SMEunited Belgian member organisation) and was responsible for advocacy on policies affecting SMEs at EU-level. In January 2016, she was nominated deputy to the SME-representative for Belgium at the European Economic and Social Committee.
Ms Willems started her career at UNIZO in 1999 as Policy Officer in charge of education, training and SME counselling and went on to work at the regional office (Vlaams-Brabant & Brussel) as responsible for advocacy at regional level, mentorship programs and individual counselling for entrepreneurs.
CEO BeAngels and Managing Partner ScaleFunds
“The WeGate Summit will be an opportunity to address one of the ways in which women entrepreneurs can grow faster: by connecting with peers, networking, putting yourself out there and be confident about the potential of your business.”
Chief Executive Officer, Financial Alliance for Women
Inez Murray was appointed chief executive officer by the Financial Alliance for Women’s board of directors in November 2012. As CEO, Inez, who had previously served the Alliance as Vice Chair of the board, is responsible for setting the strategic direction, implementing the board’s vision, and overseeing the Alliance’s day-to-day operations. She is a globally recognized expert in women’s economic empowerment, speaking and publishing widely on that topic, and is also a seasoned executive with nearly 20 years’ experience running complex global projects, incubating new initiatives, and raising more than $20 million in funding from public and private sources.
Venture Capital Partner at Eureka Ventures and Founder of Angels4Women
“We are searching for people able to astonish us with their solutions to essential societal problems.”
Over 20 years as expert in scouting, research results exploitation, knowledge-based projects evaluation and strategic development of knowledge intensive start-ups, working with Universities, Technology Parks, Innovation Agencies, with a focus on R&I projects and entrepreneurship.
From January 2018, Anna is Member of Expert Jury Horizon Europe EIC Accelerator.
Member of “Italian Angels for Growth”, one of the most active Italian business angels clubs and co-founder of Angels4Women, the first Italian association founded with the aim of evaluating and supporting early stage startups, businesses or business projects founded by women or having a significant impact on the female target.
Anna writes about “Technology Transfer & Exploitation of research results” for digital magazine Startupbusiness with her blog “90%Below”.
Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska
Executive Director of the Foundation for Management and Industrial Research, North Macedonia
“Failure is not opposite to success, is part of it. The only real failure in life is not living the life you want and not loving what you do. Never stop working on yourself, but sometimes leave it to the universe to do its magic.”
Sophie Claessens, Director EU Public Policy at Amazon Europe and member of European Commission VAT Expert Group
“Be Passionate, Persistent, Embrace life-long learning and Connect. If you are passionate and committed to creating value for customers and if you are not afraid of hardship, obstacles and setbacks become learning opportunities. Prioritizing learning not only keeps you ahead of the curve but it also keeps you humble and adaptable. Also, women entrepreneurs must go into each room with the confidence that they belong and have real value to add. And finally, connecting with fellow entrepreneurs, male or female, that align with your purpose, can really boost your business and personal growth.”
Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck
Co-head of EU Delegation, G20 Women20 & Director, Digital Leadership Institute
“Robust and sustained investment in Europe’s women entrepreneurs is the key to achieving a just digital and green transformation.”
Co-founder @ Women On Top and member of the WEgate Community Council
“Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, that’s why you need plenty of fuel stops and great partners along the way”.
Sanja Popovic Pantic
Chair of Thematic Group Women Entrepreneurship at the Enterprise Europe Network, President at the Association of Business women in Serbia and member of the WEgate Community Council
“Let every crisis be a challenge and a challenge a chance to go to the next level.”
Head of Department, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
“Say more yes to things even if you have never done them before. It will give you the opportunity to learn and grow.”
Since May 2022, Birgit Weidel is heading the department responsible for the implementation of parts of the Single market programme, Horizon Europe and ERDF in the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. Her department deals with the SME Pillar, standardisation, consumers, EU and placed based innovation ecosystems. Previously she was heading the unit responsible for promoting the competitiveness of SMEs and designing SME support policies in the European Commission Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. She has extensive experience in the internal market for goods and in industrial policy. Before joining the SME unit, she served as Deputy Head of Unit in the advanced engineering industries, dealing with standardisation, digitalisation and trade negotiations. Previously, she worked as assistant professor at the Vienna University of Economics, where she conducted research on the external economic relations of the EU.
WEgate Project Manager
“Women entrepreneurs have a particular type of strength: they are stronger together. Their strength is rooted in their willingness to collaborate. This characteristic is key for the future we want, for the sustainable transitions we need, so urgently. Sharing their knowledge and expertise, women entrepreneurs empower themselves and the communities they are part of. Let’s amplify the positive impact and assist them to this mission, amplifying the positive impact of women entrepreneurs, and supporting them to reach further, to be brave leaders, and value our co-creation capacity. Let’s break down walls and make ourselves heard. Let’s use our strength together!”
Moderator of the WEgate Summit 2022
Helene Banner, Founder of “Let‘s Just Be Imperfect, Ladies”
“Every woman who creates a business is literally changing how our economy works: women invest differently, women communicate differently, women define “success” differently, women create impact in different sectors and for different communities. To support them, we need to stop telling women how to ‘fit in’ into existing funding opportunities. Instead, we need to listen to what women entrepreneurs need – and adapt the funding requirements to women-led businesses.”
Helene Banner is a keynote speaker, workshop host and confidence mentor who founded her business “Let’s Just Be Imperfect, Ladies” after her 10-year career as a senior communication advisor at the European Commission in Brussels and Berlin. In 2019, she was the German speechwriter of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and advised Ursula von der Leyen in the weeks when she became the first female President of the European Commission. She previously served as spokesperson and Head of Communication at the European Commission. With this experience of being a young woman in senior positions, Helene now supports male and female leaders to create a more open, transparent and diverse work culture in their organizations. Helene is also a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.