The applications have now closed. We are very humbled by the 80+ applications handed in by you and and would like to thank you for your time and energy. You will hear back from us in Mid-June.
Are you an impact entrepreneur identifying as FINTA* (female, inter, non-binary, trans, agender) currently building a social business in the field of Empowerment & Participation?
Would you like to join a community of other FINTA* and diverse founders to exchange and learn together?
Do you have a first proof of concept for your business and are seeking support to strengthen your USP, build networks and build partnerships?
If so, Empower Now is here to support. Our six-month virtual or hybrid incubation programme, developed in partnership with tbd* and our intersectional advisory board of FINTA* founders, is designed by and for FINTA* founders who are marginalised and /or face (multiple) discrimination working towards a more inclusive, equitable and participatory society. We especially encourage founders from the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities, founders with disabilities, health conditions or neurodiversity to apply.
We, the team building and hosting the Empower Now incubator, are all FINTA* with multiple discrimination backgrounds who have experienced the ups and downs of founding or running businesses and we would like to host a space for you to learn and grow together with us. For us, this means learning to grow your business sustainably, but equally important being in a space that allows us to grow together as people and to support each other along the way.
Intersectionality is important to us. That is why Vera (she/her) and Idil (she/her), who are part of the team from Impact Hub Berlin side, are joined by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board, who are co-designing the incubator with us along the way. You can read about Fox (they/them), Kave (she/her), Wadzanai (she/her), Hedda (she/no pronouns), Henriette (she/her) and Amrei (she/her) here.
Making mindfulness more accessible for people with disability. Connecting people with and without disability through mindfulness practices.
Mechthild Kreuser is the founder of Inclusive Mindfulness. Her goal is to create a more mindful and inclusive world through community. When she is not building this vision, she probably is traveling near and far, dancing or eating and cooking vegan food.
Black Female Business offers online and offline events for Black (solo) entrepreneurs and founders (to be) who identify as females. We share knowledge, empower in a Safer Space and make women* and their potential and competencies visible
Lioba Jarju (she/her) is a passionate networker and community event organiser, with diverse corporate working experience. She is co-founder of Black Female Business and offers DE&I workshops and consulting. With her work, she always pursues the goal of changing structures and opening doors for BIPoC and supporting them in the development of their full potential.
Mariam Guédé is a co-founder of Black Female Business and loves to connect. Creating spaces and bringing people together, who might never have crossed paths otherwise, is one of Mariam's greatest strengths. As an organiser and host, she has already successfully brought many people together.
Aula Future is a hybrid education platform where participants build a unique set of skills in sustainable, regenerative, and circular design, entrepreneurship, and technology. Our unique challenge-based curricula give our program participants the opportunity to work closely with actual companies on real-world issues, to create projects that positively impact human and environmental well-being, and to gain career opportunities.
Genefer Baxter is one of two founders of Aula Future. She identifies as biracial (second-generation German and African-American) and is currently based in Berlin, Germany. Genefer is professionally trained in Marketing and Design, and after graduating from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, she continued her self-directed studies in biodesign, speculative design, and graphic design. She also has earned several certificates for her training in regenerative design, systems thinking, and design thinking. As an experienced sustainable design practitioner and facilitator, Genefer is most passionate about helping others actualize their potential to create sustainable, impactful projects, and is happy to live out her purpose daily through her educational platform, Aula Future.
Art, words and object to celebrate neurodiversity and spark joy, comfort, pride and acceptance. Welcome to Cocomoino.
Hi, I'm Coco Stoppelli, a queer multiply neurodivergent (autistic ADHDer and more) visual artist and writer. I used art and words first to survive, and now to advocate for neurodiversity awareness, acceptance and mental health. I create art to spark joy, comfort and pride, and to share my lived experience. With my companion birds, I sing about both the uplifting and the difficult things.
Hildashaus e.V. is a non profit organization based in Berlin that creates safe spaces for FINTA* in vulnerable and marginalized positions and shares tools to achieve economic self-empowerment. Our tools are the combination of physical, psychological, social and educational empowerment that for us represent the pillars for economic self-empowerment.
Meet Federica Cecalupo, a social entrepreneur who believes in a society in which FINTA* have full power and control of their lives to become anything they want. She believes in a world in which FINTA* can fully express themselves and their potential regardless of their origin. Driven by an unwavering passion and a clear purpose, Federica combines perseverance with a deep commitment to self-growth, shaping her journey as a catalyst for positive change.
ROOTS is a non-profit organisation that brings the community together through creativity, movement and sharing knowledge. Our work is on the one hand about a positive self-perception, and on the other hand, about very concrete practical help for those affected by racism and discrimination.
My name is Naima Nazir. As a founder, I am driven by the principles of mutual aid and a deep-rooted belief in the potential of an alternative society. In my vision, we transcend the confines of being perceived as individual brands, consumers, or entrepreneurs engaged in relentless competition. Instead, I strive to cultivate a collective mindset that thrives on compassion and cooperation. Through collaboration and shared purpose, we can forge a path towards a more inclusive and just future, where the power of community and collaboration drives meaningful change.
Lovely T is Germany's first ever trans guest house. Led by trans women and designed for all the spectrum of gender non conforming people: trans, inter, non-binary and gender queer.
We are Ceniza Armstrong and Earenya Guerra. We describe ourselves as a team, working cooperatively to build our space. We are clear about what we want and determined to make it happen by going through all the necessary steps to make it real. We adapt to the different needs and situations that arise in our path. We have professional backgrounds in our respective fields.
KINDA stands for kindhearted innovation nurturing diverse artists and is the brainchild of producer and Film University Babelsberg graduate Lorena Junghans. Inspired by the visionary strategies of music industry avant-gardists like FAC, AWAL and Platoon, as well as the principles of impact production, production companies, and artist management, KINDA is poised to forge new paths and drive systematic change, fostering greater diversity in the European media industry.
Hey, I'm Lorena Junghans, the founder and creative force behind KINDA. I am thrilled to introduce you to kindhearted innovation nurturing diverse artists: KINDA represents my vision to drive systematic change and foster sustainable growth in the media industry and beyond. I am dedicated to investing in pioneering artists as agents for a thriving cultural and creative sector.
Each team is matched with a FINTA* mentor who will support them with their expertise and mentorship throughout the si month long incubator.
I like to think of myself as a firestarter. I've spearheaded various innovative ventures from ideation to realization, each luckily blossoming into successful companies. My professional journey taught me the process of bootstrapping and "learning by doing", I believe it fosters better growth and a deeper understanding of the opportunities that lie ahead.
I am a neuroscientist turned social entrepreneur, co-creating a (working) world that allows every human to feel they belong, their voice matters, and their being is valued. I founded Dr. Mega Consulting in 2018, with the mission to co-create a more just and equitable (working) world for all humans. My vision is a world in which every person feels a sense of belonging and dignity. I am engaged in the work of dismantling systems of oppression & acknowledge that this needs to start with myself.
I am a non-binary trans frontend engineer with close to 12 years of experience and a strong focus on digital accessibility, diversity and inclusion. I have spent the last 6 years leading teams and growing engineering departments in a healthy way. My other skills include (but are not limited to) automated testing, frontend performance, web security, documentation, inclusive design and agile practices and methodologies. I also happen to be a former technical writer who loves everything documentation. I have authored two books on CSS and Sass respectively at the start of my career and over 350 technical articles for various popular publications, from CSS-Tricks to Smashing Magazine, from Codrops to Tuts+. Anecdotally, I am a former Google Developer Expert in frontend development as well as a nominee for the Developer of the Year (2015) Net Awards, and the Open-Source Contributor of the Year (2023) Xena Awards.
Yolanda Rother (she/her) is co-founder of The Impact Company, a diversity, audience and culture consultancy. She moderates and speaks on topics related to digital society, politics and open government, diversity and sustainability. The Berlin native is a graduate (Master of Public Policy) of the Hertie School and has lived in Brazil, France and the United States.
Marie Demont is a Marketing Executive with 15 years of experience helping businesses grow impactful consumer brands across various industries and leading Marketing teams that think and act global. Marie is passionate about social impact and female empowerment. As such, she co-hosted Rising Pineapples, the 1st Women's conference on International Women's Day in Berlin in 2020, and helped further build its online community. Marie is also the proud mother to three beautiful mixed-race children.
I am Henriette Schwarzer and was born without arms. Living in a large family as a convinced countryside lover is my dream. After becoming a mom, I founded Solution Worker!: a digital team with which we empower companies on call that change the world. Internally, we create custom jobs for people who have experienced discrimination. I share my 15 years of experience on inclusion in the labor market from a variety of perspectives in articles, keynotes and workshops. On a volunteer basis, I support founders with disabilities.
Izabella Neves, a Brazilian based in Berlin, brings 9+ years of professional UX design and user research experience. She's led diverse research projects, harnessing data-driven methodologies for impactful innovation. With a strong focus on startup mentoring, especially empowering female-centric social businesses, she excels in crafting growth strategies and fundraising plans. Passionate about permaculture and Ethical Design, Izabella's commitment extends beyond her professional pursuits.
Human rights lawyer turned (DEIB and transformation) consultant, I care about supporting individuals and organizations co-create belonging and workplaces where everyone can thrive. I am a project lead and facilitator at LEAD Mindsets & Capabilities, a B Corp-certified transformation consultancy in Berlin.
It needs strong allies to address (structural and institutional) discrimination. We want to support you with the necessary knowledge, contacts, guidance and confidence to successfully transform your initial business idea into a validated and tested product or service, featuring a clear USP. With that, we want to support you in getting ready to partner with relevant stakeholders and to build strong networks with other organisations working in your field. Support will include:
It needs strong networks to implement change. We want to build a community of FINTA* entrepreneurs and allies online and offline:
The success of a business does not only depend on start-up-specific knowledge and network access. An elementary part of the incubator will be the handling of barriers and structural discrimination, your own wellbeing and resilience.
We are searching for impact-driven founders who:
Note: Non-profit or charity organisations that aim to create an impactful business model are also welcome to apply.
Empower Now's jury consists of our advisory board and IHB team members.
We are publishing all selection criteria in our application form. You will be able to see which criteria are matched to which question. Here is an overview:
Why FINTA* founders?
FINTA* and other discriminated groups face structural and institutional barriers when starting businesses, with female founders facing well-known barriers such as lower funding, childcare, and sexism. Inter, trans and gender non-conforming founders experience additional discrimination and are often left out of “female” empowerment programmes. Awareness of inclusive language and pronoun usage is increasing, but it is not yet the norm. Additional discrimination is also experienced by FINTA* founders who are part of LGTBQIA+ and BiPOC communities, as well as by disabled or neurodivergent FINTA* founders. We want to support FINTA* founders facing multiple discrimination working on topics around participation and empowerment – and highlight their strengths and contributions to society.
For the first round of this incubator, we would like to support communities locally. We have a wide network of Impact Hubs around the world, that are offering programmes in other countries and we are happy to make introductions.
Which legal form will be accepted for this incubation programme?
We support social businesses, meaning you are for-profit but reinvest your profits into your business or social causes, or meaning that you are non-profit with a financially sustainable business model (or have an idea how to make your business financially sustainable in the future).
Can I apply to the incubation programme with a team, or do I need to apply as an individual?
We accept applications from solo-founders and co-founders. If you are several FINTA* co-founders, we can offer you up to four spots.
How can I apply for this incubation programme, and what is the application process like?
You can apply via this form. You can find all application questions with their matching selection criteria as a PDF here or as an Excel file here. If you don’t feel comfortable using Typeform, you will be able to answer most answers in Excel – you will however need to answer the first few questions on Typeform. Please get in touch with Idil if you have any questions ([email protected]) and we are happy to help.
Will it weaken my application if I am openly sharing the struggles and challenges I am experiencing as a FINTA* founder?
No. This will show awareness of where we can support you and your willingness to learn. We also want to value your lived experience in this incubator as a strength. Following the idea of “nothing for us, without us”, we have integrated leveraging your lived experience in order to support your community with your venture/initiative as a selection criterion.
Do I need to self-identify my gender and other identity markers in order to be able to participate in the programme?
You do not need to specify your gender identity or any other identity if you do not feel comfortable doing so. By applying, we will trust that you understand that this incubator is designed for FINTA* founders facing multiple discrimination. Everyone in our team has lived experience as FINTA* facing discrimination and we know how important it is that you feel comfortable sharing (or not sharing) lived experiences and identities. There will be a few questions that go beyond business questions. The purpose of asking these questions is to make sure that we can host a safe(r) space for FINTA* founders from LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities, FINTA* founders with disabilities, health issues and neurodiversity, and other aspects leading to marginalisation, discrimination or exclusion. We strive to create an inclusive and welcoming space where all participants can express their thoughts, needs, and emotions freely without fear of judgement or discrimination. You only share what feels right to you.
How do you protect my identity and personal information?
How can you support me if I feel discriminated against, excluded, or otherwise harmed during the programme?
We are here to support you. Please refer to our code of conduct, a living document that we can shape and adapt as a cohort in the programme – including a conflict resolution protocol.
Where will the incubator take place?
The incubator is accessible fully online. If you are based in Berlin, you are welcome to join in person and join the incubator in a hybrid format. We will use Zoom, Slack and Miro to work together and are open to other suggestions. We will do our best to lower barriers to participation by having flexible hours, making sure that we have enough breaks (latest after one hour), welcoming switching off your cameras, and giving the opportunity to work in small groups if that feels more comfortable for you. We will encourage everyone to state their needs by sending around a survey at the beginning of the programme.
Are there any fees I need to pay or do you take equity from my business?
No, the programme is for free and we don’t take equity from you.
How long is the incubation programme, and what are the time commitments required?
The incubator is a 6-month part-time programme starting in Mid-July and running until the end of January 2024. You will need to invest a minimum average of 4-5 hours per week. We will try to keep the hours flexible and to schedule dates in advance so that you can plan around it. After that, you will be part of tbd*’s Wellbeing & Resilience Fellowship for another six months, to make sure that you have access to after-care and stay connected to the community.
What language will the programme be in?
The programme will take place in English, therefore you should be able to follow the programme in English. If you feel more comfortable with another language, we can make sure that we match you with a German-speaking mentor and will give our best to accommodate other languages for mentoring if needed. We are very aware that not every person speaks English, unfortunately, we cannot accommodate a multilingual programme at this point in time, this includes sign language. It is not easy for us to realise that we cannot accommodate every need, and we are considering this when looking for future funding. We do appreciate your feedback if you would like to share your thoughts. If you’d like to partner with us to make translation possible in the future, get in touch!
Is there any financial support available to participants in the incubation programme?
Unfortunately, we are not able to give you a monthly stipend. We are however happy to provide financial support for travels to Berlin, childcare or individual needs that may arise upon request. Please let us know in the application form if you have any specific requirements.
Can I participate in the incubation program while still working?
Yes! As long as you can commit to an average of 4-5 hours per week. We will do our best to plan all dates in advance.
What do you mean by partnership readiness?
We want to support you in getting ready to partner with relevant stakeholders and build strong networks with other organisations working in your field. Partners could be:
Will I receive mentorship and guidance from successful FINTA* entrepreneurs?
Yes, we will match you with a mentor to guide you throughout the incubator. We will also host peer learning sessions within the cohort so that you can learn from and with each other, and we will connect you with our community of social entrepreneurs, of whom many are FINTA* founders. You will also meet our advisory board of successful FINTA* founders.
Will the incubation programme help me connect with potential investors and funding opportunities?
It will be our common goal to help you build partnerships, also with potential investors and donors if this is something you are interested in. We have a large community of impact investors and can make introductions on an individual basis if fitting.
Will I have the opportunity to showcase my business idea to a wider audience upon completion of the incubation programme?
Yes, we will have a virtual or hybrid closing event/demo day where you will present your business to a relevant audience. During the incubator, we will do our best to connect you to relevant stakeholders and you will be portrayed on our website and on our social media channels.
This project is supported and funded by the Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland (SEND e.V.), our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion ecosystem partner.
Thank you, SEND e.V., for making this incubator possible and for the great and trust-based collaboration.