A network worth mentioning that’s playing a large supporting role in getting women interested in digital entrepreneurship is Future Female, Helsinki-based network of likeminded women who are inspired by new ideas and the world of digital opportunities. Future Female is for women, who work, use or are interested in technology.

The organization operates as a platform for women to mentor, share, learn, connect, contribute and enable the next generation of excellence via informal and interactive get-togethers, workshops and seminars. They pride themselves on being a friendly and easily approachable network, balancing business with pleasure. There are no age or title limits, you can come as you are.

According to co-founder Hanna Manninen, Future Female was born out of inspiring conversations by women with backgrounds in technology, online media and ICT communications in Helsinki and abroad throughout 2010. “These women want to change the world a little so that the next generation of women will find working in the digital world easier, more inspiring and worth their while – Future Female’s goal is to bring more women into the limelight as our role models as well as bring up role models of the future.”

We got the chance to talk to Manninen about the impact of Future Female, which you’ll find below:

Arctic Startup: What impact do groups like Future Female have on entrepreneurship?
Hanna Manninen: Networks such as Future Female have a positive impact on entrepreneurship as our goal is to provide a platform for people thinking about starting their own company to ask questions, get mentoring and even find resources. We want to do our our bit to build knowledge levels and skills when it comes to entrepreneurship. Future Female is also a place for entrepreneurs to meet, brainstorm, network and find inspiration through informal get togethers, informative meetups and workshops.

AS: What are the most popular events you host?
Manninen: We have been so pleased with a positive response we have had for Future Female. All of our events get fully booked within hours. Our main meetups that feature 2-3 speakers on a chosen topic usually attract 60-120 attendees. Smaller, hands on workshops accommodate 20+ members. We also do informal networking drinks if we’re attending an event in a new city for example.

AS: What do you consider the biggest obstacle that prevents more women from getting into digital entrepreneurship?
Manninen: I think the biggest obstacle is still the lack of interest or understanding the opportunities technology and digital industries can provide. Without inspiring role models girls don’t see what great opportunities ICT got to offer. This is why we always look for speakers that our members are not familiar with to showcase what amazing and varied work women do in digital. We also do our best to get media interested in our network so future generations can see (or read via different channels) what alternative career opportunities there are.

AS: What trends are you seeing in regard to women and entrepreneurship in Finland?
Manninen: I think it’s more of a general trend and one that makes me happy, and that is the new, positive attitude towards entrepreneurship and startups. Women are also being creative and braver when thinking about their business ideas.

AS: Do you have any advice for women looking to start a company?
Manninen: Just do it! It’s worth the risk. Do your homework to see what the competition is like, what resources are available on- and offline, and don’t be shy to ask questions. No one is going to steal your idea so brainstorm and test the concept if you can. Build your network and hire professional help to do your bookkeeping unless you go into accounting.

AS: Do you know of any similar groups to Future Female in the Nordic and Baltic countries?
Manninen: There are some technology focused networks for women in the Nordics such as Geek Girls, which was part of our inspiration when thinking about starting our own network. We wanted to also bring the entrepreneurship and startup attitude to our network.

Future Female was founded in 2010 by Annikki Laine, Hanna Manninen and Krista Järvinen. You can find out more information about their events and more on their website and Facebook page.

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