This 25-Year-Old Woman Tackles Economic Crisis in Greece Through Venture

by @pocketysun

Today’s spotlight is on Paula Schwarz, my classmate at the “VC Unlocked” program hosted by 500 Startups and Stanford University. She inspired me to dare greatly at a young age, and I’ve been following her work closely ever since.

Paula Schwarz is a half Greek and half German woman who dedicates her life to building bridges through venture capital. Instead of trying to make easy money, Paula identifies and incubates promising underprivileged founders in Greece and Germany, by using the combined forces of her international network. “The style we need in order to build effective ventures in Europe today is a cocktail between strict German bureaucracy, Greek freedom and American venture thinking”, she says.

Paula travels back and forth between the startup capital Berlin and the Greek island of Samos, where she personally coaches underprivileged, capable entrepreneurs and provides access to funding and sponsorships from VC’s such as Paradigm Capital and MOTU Ventures. She connects them to an international network of supporters through “The Exponential Network”, an impact investor group that she founded back in early 2014.

When you identify amazing change makers around you, you are most likely to also empower yourself by empowering them. Paula leads the way for those who strive to work around effective co-creation instead of competition. You don’t have to turn your entire life around to make a change, you can look into existing strengths in your network and motivate others to join you in doing good.

On her latest project Startupboat, an incubator for innovative solutions to social challenges, Paula has hosted and engaged a variety of global influencers who resonated with her mission. Members of the World Economic Forum, his highness the prince of the Netherlands, as well as different impact investors, venture capitalists, NGOs, entrepreneurs and researchers from think tanks around the world such as Harvard and MIT, met on open water in different parts of Europe to discuss and grow innovative solutions for the European refugee crisis. Their ideas include the Migration Hub Network, a free co-working space for social change makers who perceive mass migration as an opportunity, rather than a challenge, and Marhacar, a delivery service for first-aid goods on Greek islands, Refugees on planes.

Before the refugee crisis struck, Paula worked from buses in Africa to build businesses with teams on the road and, by the way, still seemed totally relaxed while doing so. She makes me believe that by empowering one another we can achieve the best result for all. Want to join one of her Startupboat sessions? You can apply on the Startupboat website, or by sending a mail to community@startupboat.eu.