Patricia Araque of Ellas 2.0: References for Women in Entrepreneurship are Lacking

Patricia Araque is the figure at the helm of Ellas 2.0, a project born in 2009 Spain inspired by Women 2.0. Its objective: to support and spread technology-based entrepreneurship among Hispanic women.

After reaching an agreement with Women 2.0, Araque collaborated on the launch of Founder Friday, a monthly networking event for women in entrepreneurship, in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Colombia. The partnership came to an end in March.

Now, Ellas 2.0 is entering into a new phase. The organization is hosting independent activities, such as Ellas Conectan, a weekly online meetup for women.

Araque shared with us what’s going on with Ellas 2.0 as well as her perspective on women in the tech ecosystem in Ibero-America.

Clarisa Herrera: What’s the spirit of Ellas Conectan?

Patricia Araque: The meetup comes as the result of our experiences throughout the region. We recognized the possibilities for cooperation that come about among female entrepreneurs in the same industry or at the same stage in their businesses. Many women have many things in common, but they’re miles apart. The spirit of the initiative comes from that.

The idea is to bring women entrepreneurs out of isolation and give them a vision of the global scene, especially because many of them aren’t located in big cities. Offline events take place in metropolitan areas, but there is also talent in regions without access to these spaces and with the same need for connection.

CH: You’ve traveled throughout the region. What’s lacking most in the ecosystem of female entrepreneurs?  patricia araque

PA: I think there is a clear lack of references. The task of making women who have already tried their hand at entrepreneurship more visible is fundamental, and it is ongoing. The references we have are men. People tend to identify with what is similar to them, and given that the primary identifier is gender, women need to gain more terrain. Careful – that also means bringing more visibility to failures, to women who tried several times before finding success. Those are the cases that need to be shown.

CH: Does financing have a gender issue?

PA: The problem of accessing funding isn’t exclusive to women, but it does affect is in a particular way. Today, most technology investors are men, leaving us in the same spot. The angel investor is going to pick the startups he identifies with. Who does he identify with? A man who reminds him of himself. Investors are generally successful entrepreneurs, and because there aren’t many successful female entrepreneurs who reinvest in the ecosystem, what we end up with is this vicious cycle that doesn’t favor women. We’ve got to drive forward to reach a crucial mass of startups led by women, which means a statistical increase in success rates. Those women will reinvest in the ecosystem.

CH: What’s the formula for success for women who want to have a family? Is it possible?

PA: Child rearing falls on women, even today. We had our revolution in the 70s and reclaimed public spaces, so why can’t men reclaim private spaces? I think it’s time for them to play a more active role. It’s a job for two. My husband raises my children with me, which is why it hasn’t been an obstacle for me – plus, technology lets me work from basically anywhere. Moreover, at the end of the day, a baby is a startup, right? (laughs) For which we need our partners and our support networks, too.

CH: What women inspire you today?

PA: There are countless stories of anonymous women that inspire me every day – not just those with successful projects, but also those who achieve a balanced life (projects and family). I love Vicky Ricaurte, the Colombian founder of UrGiftIn and mother of two girls. She’s a great professional with a lot of visibility, an industry reference and an excellent mother.

CH: What’s ahead for the platform?

PA: We’ve launched Ellas Conectan Live, an offline proposal to connect female entrepreneurs. We’ll start in Barcelona next week, and we want to replicate the event in Latin American cities as well. So, we hope women entrepreneurs will contact us to help build similar spaces in their areas.

This text has been adapted and translated into English by Emily Stewart from its original Spanish publication.