Results of the study “Invest in Her” · Encouraging acceleration of women’s representation in the promising sector of impact startups

Committed for more than 10 years to a greater representation of women in tech, JFD (Journée de la Femme Digitale) dedicated its 11th annual study to female entrepreneurship within the future generation of impact startups entitled: “Invest in Her”. JFD, in partnership with EY and France Digitale, has conducted the first study focusing on the representation of women founders within impact startups in France, a sector with great potential, particularly attractive to investors and definitely turned towards the future.

Revealed on 8 March 2023 at the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, the “Invest in Her” study reveals several promising insights into the involvement of women in tech.

More and more women are getting involved in impact startups.

  • 27% of Impact startups were founded or co-founded by women (higher than all startups across all sectors); 
  • In the sample of startups under 5 years old, the share of women founders increases to 34%.

This increase over the last few years would suggest a growing willingness of women to take action on environmental and societal issues.

“This growing involvement of women is encouraging insofar as Impact strategies are attracting more and more investors. This suggests that, in the long term, there will be a greater representation of women in French tech. In any case, it is a strong signal sent today with a watchword: Invest in her.” says Delphine Remy-Boutang, JFD Founder and Business Angel.

Investment in Impact startups in France has increased by 50% between 2018 and 2019, from €300 million to €450 million. Beyond being excellent news for the economy of tomorrow, this is also a strong signal on the trajectory towards parity in entrepreneurship: more and more women are mobilising to launch an impact startup.

In their quest for meaning, women entrepreneurs are taking action in areas of impact that are increasingly widespread and rooted in our daily lives.

The representation of women in Impact startups varies according to the impact objectives. While Economic and Social Impact attract a larger share of women, Environmental Impact is also a cause that is increasingly attracting women.


Of the 30% of startups with economic impact in our sample, 32% are projects led by women. 48% of startups in the consumer sector were founded by a woman.


Of the 55% of startups with an environmental impact in our sample, 20% are projects led by women. 26% of startups in the agriculture & food sector were founded by a woman.


Of the 15% of social impact startups in our sample, 42% are projects led by women. 45% of startups in the education & culture sector were founded by a woman.


Thus, the Top 3 sectors where women (co)found the most are the following:

  1. Consumer (FMCG products and responsible consumption services) – 6% of the total sample: Women entrepreneurs are in the majority here; nearly one in two Impact startups is co-founded by a woman like Lucie Basch, Co-founder Too Good To Go (2018 winner of les Margaret Award) or Jessie Toulcanon, Co-founder PickMe, included in the sample.
  2. Education & culture (intellectual enrichment) – 5% of the total sample, is in 2nd position with 45% of women (co)founders, such as Véra Kempf, co-founder Singulart (winner of the EY Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award).
  3. Circular economy (second-hand sales or services platforms, waste reduction services, …) – 10% of the total sample, comes in 3rd position with almost 1 in 3 Impact startups (co)founded by a woman, such as Shu Zhang, co-founder Pandobac (2023 finalist of les Margaret Award).


The significant representation of women in this sector reflects their desire to make their entrepreneurial project a part of people’s daily lives.

It is also interesting to note that within the Agriculture & Food sector (12% of the sample), women have (co)founded 26% of the startups following the example of Aude Guo, co-founder Innovafeed (French Tech Next 40) or Julie Davico-Pahin, co-founder Ombrea (2019 winner of les Margaret Award). This percentage increases to 35% in startups in the sector that are less than 5 years old. Positive signals, again very encouraging, as this may suggest a real acceleration in the representation of women beyond the economic and social sectors.

“We can be pleased to see women entrepreneurs in increasingly varied sectors that are firmly rooted in our daily lives. This shows the strength of their motivation and their desire to influence the major challenges facing our society. This is a positive trend that must be supported and amplified.” concludes Emmanuelle Ratsimialavahoaka, Senior Manager Audit EY.

Education pathways to be encouraged in scientific careers

The study also reveals that 50% of the impact startups were founded by entrepreneurs with scientific backgrounds.

However, based on the sample studied, only :

  • 30% of female founders studied engineering compared to 55% of men.
  • In Impact startups, almost half of the women founders have studied business and management, compared to 36% of the men.

“It is essential to continue to reinforce the attractiveness of scientific careers from an early age, as education in these fields is an important lever for accelerating the representation of women in tech,” emphasises Maya Noël, General Manager of France Digitale.

Mixed gender collaboration as a strength: women create with men.

The final conclusion of the study concerns the gender diversity of the founding teams. Indeed, when women decide to become entrepreneurs, they do so as a team, and in the vast majority of cases, in partnership with a man:

  • 83% of women co-founded their impact startup compared to 68% of men;
  • 80% of women co-found with a man (20% do so with at least one other woman) where men co-found at 20% with women.


Methodology Study: The 2023 “Invest in Her” study by JFD x EY x France Digitale used the mapping of impact startups produced in November 2022 by France Digitale and Bpifrance Le Hub. It focuses on the analysis of the gender and profile of the founders of active startups based in France that have not made an exit. These companies have an environmental, social or economic impact at the heart of their activity. The panel does not include startups in the health sector, and the total population studied includes 1,008 startups.





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