Europe’s ‘outstanding’ women social entrepreneurs and innovators named in new listing

One hundred leading women in the field of social enterprise have been recognised in a new continent-wide listing unveiled to coincide with International Women’s Day.

The Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise, an initiative of Euclid Network, the European network for social enterprises, and Empow’her, a social venture working focused on women’s empowerment, names 100 changemakers who are “leading the way in social entrepreneurship and innovation”.

Veerle Klijn, project manager at Euclid Network, said: “It is a humbling experience to work with trailblazing women day in, day out – whose significant impact on bringing us closer to a fair and green economy should be celebrated widely. This is why we started the Top 100 initiative.”

It is a humbling experience to work with trailblazing women day in, day out – whose significant impact on bringing us closer to a fair and green economy should be celebrated widely

Nominations were open to women holding a leadership position anywhere in Europe, and the selection panel – staff members of Euclid Network and Empow’her – received almost 500 applications. The UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Turkey were particularly strongly represented.

Euclid Network Top 100 WomenThe final 100 demonstrated “outstanding leadership skills and commitment by going beyond their role and inspiring others to channel their potential”, according to Euclid Network. They have been developing and implementing large-scale projects aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and their innovative approaches “are adaptable and sustainable and therefore, have the potential to continue creating positive impact over a long period of time”.

Among the 100 women named are the UK’s Rose Marley, who founded the social enterprise SharpFutures and recently joined Co-operatives UK as CEO; Saskia Bruysten, CEO of Germany-based Yunus Social Business; and Saskia Bruines, Alderman for economic affairs, international affairs and municipal services in The Hague.

Although women are still underrepresented in social enterprise leadership roles compared to men, in several countries women play a stronger role in social entrepreneurship than they do in mainstream business. Research by the British Council in Turkey in 2019 found that 55% of social enterprises were founded and managed by women – while female leadership in conventional business and civil society organisations in the country stood at just 19% and 14% respectively. In Greece, 35% of social enterprises were led by women, compared to around 20% in mainstream business.



Euclid Network, whose members together represent over 100,000 organisations in 21 countries, will publish interviews with women leaders from the Top 100 list in the coming weeks.

  • Pioneers Post is a media partner for the European Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise. The NatWest WISE100, run in partnership with NatWest since 2017, will open for applications from women in the UK once again later this year.

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