Launching the #GründerInnenstadt Campaign to Support Female-Run Businesses

Since the beginning of the pandemic, German city centers and their small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been battling vacancy rates and low walk-in customer numbers at a higher level than seen previously. As part of our digital economic study, we have also seen that women are being disproportionately affected by the impact of the pandemic. Female-run businesses have generally reported greater losses in revenue, while at the same time, women have taken on increased duties in the domestic sphere. 

We have also seen, however, that particularly in the SMB sector, creative ideas are being developed with the aim of unlocking opportunities from challenging circumstances. Digital solutions, personalized advertising, and social media have helped SMBs to become more visible to their customers. But digital retail cannot, and should not replace brick-and-mortar trade, as people still want to meet offline and use all their senses to engage with the products. Touching, sampling, and discussing in person all play key roles in the purchasing experience. This is why we believe that the business models of the future should take a hybrid approach.

Through this year’s mid-sector initiative #GründerInnenstadt (a play on words between “female founders” and “city center”), we hope to continue to support local economies and, in doing so, to help female-led businesses in particular to build and develop hybrid business models. We’ll do this together with powerful partners, including the HDE retail association, entrepreneur and TV host Sylvie Meis, retail and destination expert Nicole Srock.Stanley, and careers network nushu. As the name #GründerInnenstadt suggests, this new initiative focuses on reviving city centers while bringing female retailers, in particular, along with their business ideas, experiences and products, to the forefront. Great ideas and local businesses deserve to be discovered.

In order to attract attention locally and offline, acclaimed female artists and designers Heidrun TröndleLilo Klinkenberg and Anna Luise Rother are teaming up with us to redesign the shop windows of three female-run businesses in three German cities: 

The campaign is backed by successful entrepreneur and TV host Sylvie Meis, who is especially keen to support women in business during this difficult period: 

“#GründerInnenstadt is addressing the issue that is all too obvious in Germany at present: Women, particularly mothers, have been disproportionately burdened during the pandemic, and their careers and businesses are suffering for it. We all need to work together to help bring female entrepreneurs back to the fore quickly. This is why I’m particularly excited to be involved with this campaign. There are so many great local businesses and success stories that deserve to be seen. They need our help to do this. However, the coronavirus pandemic has also shown us that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are a megaphone to the world: They allow these very business owners to be discovered and to inspire their customers.
—Sylvie Meis, entrepreneur and TV host

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