F-LANE goes virtual: Launching the next round

F-LANE goes virtual: Launching the next round

The Vodafone Institute launches the next round of its global social impact accelerator programme for female empowerment virtually. Applications are now open until July 31.

The global COVID-19 pandemic reveals the structural and social disadvantages for women* and girls* worldwide, more clearly than ever before. Despite many efforts in politics, business and civic society, women* and girls* still lack access to local and international educational resources, economic participation and health care.

Inger Paus, Managing Director of the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications, explains:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global challenge but at the same time, a catalyst for social innovation. Thus, the Vodafone Institute will run batch #5 of its female social ventures programme remotely in 2020, and with a new partner set-up with which we want to raise F-LANE to the next level and further scale the programme globally. Furthermore, we will take up COVID-19 as a current topic for women* as agents of change and support sustainable solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic for them, their families and communities.”

We might be facing a global pandemic but the inequalities women* face in the world today are more prevalent than ever:

  • Women* are at greater risk of poverty, abuse, malnourishment and undereducation for a number of interrelated reasons (wage gap, unpaid caregiving, pregnancy affecting educational opportunities, and domestic violence). 
  • In 2019, only one CEO running Fortune 500 is a woman of colour.
  • 46% of women* think gender has an impact on the barriers they face in running their social enterprise. Female founders are undervalued and overlooked by the investment community.
  • COVID-19 has shown that women* are affected worse by such crises, from domestic violence to increased maternal mortality as a result of resources being diverted to the emergency response.

Solutions launched by F-LANE alumni are already seeking to solve these problems, Rubi Health for example provides mothers in Nigeria with telehealth and psychiatry care during and after pregnancy. Read more about F-LANE startups here.

Social entrepreneurship has opened a window of opportunity and offers a powerful tool to alleviate poverty and address gender inequalities. This is the desire that led the Vodafone Institute to launch Europe’s first accelerator for social entrepreneurs who create impact for women* of all ages around the globe.

The F-LANE Accelerator for Female Empowerment

F-LANE was founded by the Vodafone Institute in 2016 and is looking internationally for innovative tech start-ups with a focus on women* who solve a social problem entrepreneurially and who have the potential to achieve a broad impact. The Institute has developed F-LANE with a threefold mission. That is, more female representation in the tech world, utilising technology as a force of social change, and finally, closing the gender investment gap.

The criteria for the selection of F-LANE start-ups are, besides the proof of a more-than-profit model, a measurable impact of the founding idea, the focus on technologies and the empowerment of women*, who are still underrepresented in the technology sector.

F-LANE goes virtual with new partners

With the new round of F-LANE, which kicks off in September of 2020, the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications – Vodafone’s European Think Tank – draws upon the success of four previous programme rounds and expands its partner set-up to increase impact and scale. For the first time, the programme will run remotely and virtually with digital coaching and webinars, to meet the logistical and economic challenges posed by COVID-19.

For this purpose, the Vodafone Institute runs F-LANE with its new implementation partner Yunus Social Business. Yunus Social Business was founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus with the vision of financing, supporting and growing social businesses with large companies who want to see business in a different way.

The F-LANE founding partners Social Entrepreneurship Akademie in Munich will continue to support F-LANE with their excellent impact entrepreneurship competencies, while the Impact Hub Berlin remains on board as Community Partner providing participating start-ups with access to the global impact community and investors. Furthermore, WLOUNGE, as a new partner to the F-LANE network, will contribute its expertise in gender lens investing and it’s local and global investors and mentors network to support the cohort.

An individualised support programme

F-LANE will specifically emphasise the personal and individual support of each founding team. The programme focuses on the development of strategic measures in the areas of impact, product strategy, business model, customer access, sales strategy, marketing & branding and investment.

The mentors from the global networks of Vodafone Group and Yunus Social Business as well as the other network partners like SEA, Impact Hub and WLOUNGE are in line with the specific needs of the social entrepreneurs.

There is no equity stake or cost of participation and the programme is run virtually from early September 2020. The aim is to bring in the best of both worlds by combining the experience and excellence from on-site programs with the flexibility of a remote setup. Keeping in mind entrepreneurs’ busy time, there will be a break of several weeks in between to allow time for F-LANE inputs to be digested and implemented by the teams in their home markets.

Last year’s social entrepreneur Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder of Safe & the City states:

The F-LANE is an excellent accelerator for Female Founders. It provided us with valuable resources, connections into the Vodafone ecosystem, the opportunity to launch the app in Berlin and continued investment into our growth as a business.”

Applications are Now Open

We are looking for social entrepreneurs and social tech founders from all over the world who are in the early stages of developing their business models and who use digital technologies to improve the lives of girls* and women* worldwide.

F-LANE seeks for ambitious social entrepreneurs that:

  • Focus on the empowerment of woman and show a clear commitment to diversity and equality in the impact generated
  • Proof of a more than profit model and desire to create a positive impact
  • Focus on technologies to implement innovative ideas
  • Clear about impact and how to measure it
  • Show their passion for the social problem they are solving and are ready for a journey that will transform the way they do business!

Applications for the fifth batch of the F-LANE the Vodafone Institute Accelerator for Female Empowerment can be submitted until July 31st 2020 on the F-LANE website. Ten selected start-ups will partake in the F-LANE virtual accelerator programme starting September of 2020.

About the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications

The Institute is Vodafone’s European think tank. We analyse the potential of digital technologies and their responsible use for innovation, growth and sustainable social impact. With the help of studies and events, we offer a platform for the dialogue of thought leaders from science, business and politics. It is our concern to provide better access to technology for all parts of society. That is why we support projects to empower women* in the digital economy.