According to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the Federal Employment Agency), one third of people running their own businesses in Germany are women. Many of these women consider themselves as ‘mumpreneurs’- mothers, who rather than returning to their former employment after having children, decide to become their own boss. Melanie Fieseler is an independent careers consultant and Director at Melanie Fieseler Consulting, an organisation specialising in female talent management and organisational diversity. Here she gives her top ten tips and resources for mums starting a business in Germany.
The mumpreneur phenomenon has taken on a life of its’ own, particularly in expat circles, where it’s often difficult to find part-time employment at all, let alone a fulfilling job that will afford you the flexibility to reconcile motherhood with a well-paid and rewarding career. If you are a mum who is just starting out on her mumpreneur journey take a look at my top 10 tips and resources.
“Make it in Germany” describes itself as the multilingual “Welcome to Germany” portal for international qualified professionals. Those interested in immigrating to Germany can find out more about their career prospects and learn how to organise their move to the Fatherland. For those already in the country and wanting to set themselves up in business, the hotline and website can help with valuable information regarding your next steps.
KfW offers a business coaching grant for those wishing to start their own business. This consists of 75% of the total consultancy fees in the ‘Neue Bundesländer’ (i.e. East Germany, excluding Leipzig and Berlin) and 50% in the ‘Alte Bundesländer’ (i.e. West Germany + Berlin and Leipzig), up to a maximum of 4,000 Euro. You can locate a coach and apply for the grant via their website.
The Gründerinnenzentrale, based in Berlin in a female only business centre (the Weiberwirtschaft) and funded through European Social Funds is a useful resource for women entrepreneurs, new and old. Along with regular meet ups and workshops in Berlin, they provide a whole host of brochures, links and inspiration to get you started in the right direction.
The Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) provides a regularly updated list of funding opportunities. This is searchable according to various criteria, including the State in which you live and the industry in which you plan to operate.
If you are based in the German capital, the Investitions Bank Berlin’s 150-page English language business support guide gives general information on founding a business, as well as listing the specific business support programmes that are available in Berlin.
Germany loves insurance! If you want to stay on the ‘safe side’, speaking to an independent insurance broker is highly recommendable. Keith Tanner can give expert advice on all matters related to insurance. He is based in Berlin, but conducts services across Germany via phone and Skype.
For those looking to found a business in the German capital, Berlin Partner assists in finding the right business location. The service is aimed at out-of-town and local companies that require office, lab or production space.
Event Sofa is a free search service, offering locations for your conference, convention, meeting, lecture, corporate event etc. It also allows you to offer your own space to rent on a Germany-wide scale.
Founded by a mother for mothers, nie:solo describes itself as “a unique co-working platform for mothers who wish to work together on a freelance or self-employed basis”. This is a useful starting point for finding a business partner if you don’t want to go it alone or exchanging expertise. For skills swapping they also have a Facebook Group.
A group of like-minded working mothers for regular online exchange and support across Germany on various hot topics concerning mumpreneurs and working mums is ideal. It’s important for women to position themselves in a strong network.
We’ve all been there before: You have an important appointment and the night before, your child gets sick and worse still, your usual babysitter isn’t available. You could cancel but it could mean an opportunity lost. You need the Notfallmamas (‘Emergency Mums’) to come to your rescue!
Notfallmamas are either experienced mothers themselves or are qualified nurses, teachers, nursery nurses etc, who can come at short notice to take care of your child. They can even babysit overnight so if that meeting requires travel, you can rest assured that your child is being well looked after at home. At the time of writing, they operate in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart.