By having a quick look in the field and analyzing some statistics, we can probably agree that venture investing is, as for now, a man’s world. According to the European Women in VC’s report, at a European level, 85% of venture capitalists are men, while women constitute only 15%. Zooming in on CEE, we learn from the same report that VCs are run by 90% men, while women make up only 10%.
Moving from VCs to angel investors, things are not very much different. According to Selma Prodanovic, Vice-President of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN)(mentioned in the list below), “today, only 10% of angel investors (ed. note: from Europe) are women and a mere 2% of venture capital is invested into female-only startups.” To strike a difference, EBAN commits to triple the representation of women in venture investing by 2030 with Manifesto For a Gender Balanced Angel Investing Ecosystem.
To support this cause, we want to introduce a curated list showcasing influential women driving momentum in the startup sector from CEE. It’s essential to emphasize that this article is an ongoing initiative and is not intended to be exhaustive, as numerous remarkable women are contributing to the European investment space.
Female Angel Investors from CEE
A mixer of business and spirituality, Alina makes sure people stay true to themselves even when building the next big thing. Besides her professional endeavors, Alina is an angel investor with the WIT Angels Club.
Ana Maria Andronic is a versatile professional and a well-known figure in the Romanian startup scene. She specializes in International Intellectual Property and Internet Law and practices in Bucharest and New York. Moreover, Ana Maria is the founder of Venture Connect, the first initiative facilitating tech investments in Romania, and serves as a board member at Bravva Angels, supporting early-stage startups. “Since I have been so active in this industry, I have been lucky enough to be close to many entrepreneurs in very different fields,” says Ana Maria in this interview for The Recursive.
A founder-turned-investor, Ana has 20 years of experience in building and scaling brands and tech businesses. From top advertising agencies to co-founding and running a startup, to the big corporate world, and back to startups she has worn many hats over the years and continues to do so. Today she gives back to the startup ecosystem, advising and investing in cool startups. She is originally from Poland and lives in the UK.
With a foundation in engineering, Andreea Saia has a profound enthusiasm for the tech world. Originally from Romania, living now in France, Andreea has 11 years of experience in tech consulting, including strategy and tech due diligence, and 2 years of entrepreneurial involvement in Tech M&A. She previously worked at Deloitte, PwC, Ericsson, and Orange. To better support startups, in 2021 she co-founded, together with Ruxandra Muys-Stoian, WIT Angels Club, a female angel investors club.
With a complex experience in HR, Andreea has delivered great results in Bucharest, London, New York, and Brussels. Today, she is the HR Director of BCR, one of the largest Romanian banks, and an angel investor with WIT Angels Club.
Enthusiastic, reliable, bottom-line focused senior manager with 20 years of management experience, Anna is a true lover of startups. Today she is Poland’s country manager for Too Good To Go, a startup that raised $85.9M over 6 rounds.
Private equity & venture capital are no new worlds for Cristina. She has been exploring this topic and others like cross-border M&As, tech, and angel investors. With Romanian roots, but based in Paris, Cristina supports startups together with WIT Angels Club.
Cristina Batlan, a seasoned Romanian entrepreneur and investor, began her journey at 19 years old when she dropped out of law school. She ventured into textile manufacturing and laid the foundation for one of Romania’s largest shoe brands. Recently, she entered the investment scene as one of the investors in the TV show Dragons’ Den, where she evaluates numerous startup opportunities.
The Romanian Cristina Toncu has been the co-founder and Programs Partner of Techcelerator for the past six years. She is also the Regional Director of the Romanian Tech Startups Association (ROTSA), and an angel investor at Bravva Angels. She has been supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem in various roles since 2007.
As the CEO of Industrial Holding Bulgaria for over 20 years, Daneta’s experience is substantial. Besides this, she holds various board positions and is an active angel investor in Bulgarian startups, the most recent one in the refurbished phones marketplace Swipe.bg.
With extensive experience in capital markets, investor relations, and strategy,, Daniela Aldescu is a true supporter of the Romanian business environment. She is a part of the leadership team at the Romanian Investor Relations Association and serves as a Partner at Smart Impact Capital – a micro-investment fund that supports impact startups proposing solutions to real societal issues.
With over 20 years of international R&D leadership experience in top high-tech multinational companies, Delia boasts successful project and product management expertise both in Romania and abroad. As a vivid promoter of the Romanian ITC community, she supports tech startups with mentorship and investments.
With more than two decades in the working field, Delia explored both the corporate and startup worlds. Specializing in the health & wellness sector, she served as the Commercial Director of Medicover, one of the largest healthcare providers in Romania, and as the Managing Partner of Sanopass, a startup acquired in 2022. Nowadays, Delia is involved as a mentor and investor in multiple startup programs and communities, including Bravva Angels.
The Bulgarian Dessislava Kovatcheva is the go-to professional if you have questions about business development or EU funds. Working for over 11 years with European-funded programmes and projects, she can support startups not only with tips and tricks on how to prepare their projects, but also on how to grow their startup.
With extensive knowledge from both the corporate and entrepreneurial world, Dobrinka Kostadinova is a Bulgarian angel investor now living in San Francisco. She worked for big companies such as Apple, Sensor Tower, and WB Games, transitioning now to an entrepreneurial venture focused on market research and data-backed strategies.
With 20+ years of experience in attracting funds for CEE innovation, Eszter Szabo is the founding president of Women Business Angels, a Hungarian NGO facilitating and promoting women’s engagement in innovation-related decision-making. She is a dedicated connector, working closely with VCs, co-working offices, women’s business networks, chambers of commerce, and big companies across borders to reach more potential investors and create a regional sense of shared goals.
Ecosystem builder at heart, Elena Nikolova is the Community Manager of CEO Angels Club, co-founder of ESCREO, and passionate about impact investing. She is one of the creators of FEB – a community of female founders promoting female entrepreneurship in Bulgaria. Through her work and knowledge sharing, she is an inspiration box for founders and entrepreneurs. More on the topic of angel investing she wrote in a guest article for The Recursive.
Corporate banker turned angel investor, Galina has a special attraction to impact investing. With Bulgarian roots, but based in the UK, she is the Co-Lead of the UK Chapter of the Bulgarian Angels Club. During her career and positions at GE Capital, she accumulated a wealth of finance and investment experience, which she now shares with the startup world through advisory and mentorship. “My strong conviction is that in the next 10-20 years founders and managers will run their businesses with intentional impact,” she mentioned in her guest article for The Recursive.
From Romania to Japan, Gabriela has seen many things. Today, after 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, and cross-cultural communication, Gabriela is keen on mentoring and advising startups around the world. She is the communication manager of WIT Angels Club, where she is also an investor.
Covering multiple CEO positions, Ilinca Paun embraced her passion for building courage in young entrepreneurs and started investing in startups. Previously leading Colliers International and then The Entrepreneurship Academy, she interacted with enough founders that she believed in. To better support both sides, the founders and the investors, she founded Bravva Angels, an angel investor community in Romania that invests in startups with a female co-founder.
Passionate about tech, M&A, corporate, and employment law, Iulia has a solid track record in a wide range of national and international transactions. Throughout her 20-year career, she has worked with multiple legal matters, from joint ventures and private equity to sensitive employment issues and data privacy matters. Today, Iulia is the Head of Legal at FlowX, the startup that raised one of the largest rounds in CEE, and a member of the WIT Angels Club.
With extended experience in banking, management, business development, and venture capital, Iulia is a true supporter of startups. As a member of WIT Angels Club and founder of Infinitree Venture Capital, she knows how important it is to contribute to the growth of the next big company.
Starting as a business journalist, Kasia Pieniadz wears many hats. With experience in health economics and startup investing, she actively supports healthcare and blockchain startups. Originally from Poland, she now lives in Switzerland and is a board member of COBIN Angels, a Polish Business Angels Club, and Bitfold, a platform for blockchain technology.
Kinga Stanislawska is the co-founder of Experior VC, a leading venture capital fund based in Poland, focused on investing in data-driven startups in CEE. Serving as an Investment Committee Member at EIC Fund, the largest deep-tech fund in Europe, and holding board positions in rapidly expanding companies, Kinga contributes to strategic decision-making and growth initiatives. Additionally, she is a Board Member of EIC and co-initiated the European Women in VC Community, marking a significant milestone as the first venture capital fund in Europe founded by women.
Passionate about empowering tech start-ups and established companies on their path to success, Laura has a lot to say on topics like recruitment, project management, planning, strategy, and others. She has her own coaching and recruiting practice and is an angel investor with the WIT Angels Club.
Recruitment, people management, employer branding, and other HR-adjacent activities are Madalina’s cup of tea. She’s been doing it for over 30 years and learned the ins and outs of HR. As talent is a big part of a business, and even more important for a startup, Madalina surely has some good advice for founders. Besides her professional endeavors, Madalina is an angel investor with the WIT Angels Club.
Maja Križan is the Chief Operating Officer of Business Angels of Slovenia. In her work, she partners with investors and startups, facilitating connections and fostering business growth. With over a decade of experience in business sales development for major Slovenian companies, she has gained insights into the factors that truly fuel successful partnerships and how to leverage collaboration for innovation. Nowadays, Maja supports startups with consultancy services in product lifecycle management, customer experience management, customer behavior and journey, and product development.
After starting her career as a communication and partnership manager in Paris, Marion moved to Dubai for 5 years where she worked in business development in the Gulf Region. After moving to Bucharest, she entered the tech industry and now works as the Head of Exotic Products Technology at Societe Generale. Also, she is the Europe Director for the global movement Women in Tech and an angel investor at Bravva.
A pioneering entrepreneur in Romania’s leisure industry, Daniela Mariscu has founded and is involved in multiple businesses. Known also for her investing journey at the TV Show Dragons’s Den, Daniela is a true supporter of the Romanian startup community.
Mila Petrova, an accomplished angel investor from Bulgaria, brings a wealth of experience as a retail sales manager in the oil and energy sector. With a proven track record, she advised in business planning, coaching, retail management, and navigating mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Mila is actively involved in startup initiatives from Bulgaria, supporting founders with mentorship and investments.
How far can you get in the company where you start as a trainee? Ask Monica. What started as a trainee position led to her becoming COO and then the Deputy CEO of Pentalog, the leading IT outsourcing company. Acquiring plenty of lessons in IT & outsourcing, Monica now gives back to the business world as a serial investor and business angel.
Being an entrepreneur for a long time, Monika Stanisheva learned one thing or two. Currently, she is the Chair of the Board of the Bulgarian online media platform, Dir.bg, and CEO of the PR agency ActiveGroup EOOD. With a journalistic background, she surely has great storytelling advice for the startups she invests in and not only.
Being the HR Director of Transilvania Bank, one of the largest banks in Romania, Nevenca has extensive experience in banking, recruitment, and business development. She has been involved in the startup ecosystem as an angel investor for many years.
Nina Dremelj is a multifaceted professional, serving as an investor, business angel, mentor, advisor, and entrepreneur. With over 15 years of leadership experience, she has a strong emphasis on leadership management, legal, HR, and financial domains. Currently holding the position of president at Business Angels of Slovenia, the largest angel investors club in the country, Nina also serves as a Board Member at EBAN – European Business Angels Network. In addition, she holds the role of CEO at Alita Capital, a pre-seed fund that invests in exceptional teams with a strong commitment to helping them grow.
Working in the digital transformation field, Oana knows one thing or two about technology and innovation. In her career she held the Chief Digital Officer in multiple companies, today being the Regional Head of IT for Imperial Brands PLC. To support the startup ecosystem, she contributes with her knowledge and angel investments.
With a proven track record of leadership and expertise in business financing, entrepreneurship, and mentoring, Olga is the CEO of Startup Moldova, an organization supporting tech startups from the Republic of Moldova. With her extensive background and dedication to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Olga Melniciuc is a passionate startup enabler.
Ralitsa Ivanova is a Bulgarian serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and advisor with extensive experience in the product and tech field. Today, she is the co-founder and head of studio at Appolica, a venture studio helping founders develop their solutions faster. Ralitsa is passionate about helping founders create more value with fewer resources. She supports female founders and working moms in becoming successful.
Experienced advisor on wealth management, Raluca works closely with a select number of ultra-high net worth families. With an MBA in investments from Ross School of Business University of Michigan, she has a solid track record in most reputable banks worldwide in wealth and money management. Raluca now uses her capital and knowledge to invest in startups as a part of the WIT Angels Club.
If there is a problem in your P&L, Raluca will find it. With an experience of over 20 years in accounting and finance, Raluca now oversees the accounting department of Crowe Romania. After many years of working with numbers, she now finds joy and satisfaction in working with clients, growing teams, and also angel investing alongside the WIT Angels Club community.
A Romanian based in Silicon Valley, Ruxandra is an angel investor and the co-founder of the WIT Angels Club, a female angel investors club. With a rich professional journey spanning over 20 years at PwC, where she served as a Partner in Management Consulting, she worked in many countries, including CEE, Russia, and France, providing her with a global perspective on business.
If there’s a question on value proposition and customer management, there’s a big chance Sabina has an answer. With vast experience from customer-facing jobs in banks or telecommunications, she supports the startup ecosystem with angel investments and advice. Today, she works as the Customer Value Management Director at UniCredit Bank and is a member of the WIT Angels Club.
Selena is a seasoned business consultant with more than 10 years of experience in advising local and international clients. Her sweet spots are due diligence activities and M&A. Being exposed to the power of technology, Selena is now active in the startup ecosystem, supporting the founders with mentorship and investments.
Startup-Grande-Dame” Selma Prodanovic, acclaimed as one of “Europe’s most influential women in startups and VC” in 2022 & 2023, is a passionate multipreneur, keynote & TED speaker, ecosystem investor, and advisor. She is the Vice President of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN), founder of the global SDG platform 1MillionStartups, and initiator of the EBAN Manifesto for Gender Balanced Investing. For over 20 years she considerably shaped the startup and angel investing ecosystem in Europe. Her visionary TED talk “Invest Like A Girl” challenges the existing norms and biases in early-stage investing.
Silke is the co-owner of Albatros Media, the largest Czech book publishing company, and the co-founder of Tilia Impact Ventures, the first social impact fund in the Czech Republic. In the past, Silke worked as the CEO of the Czech Private Equity & Venture Capital Association as well as a senior professional for private equity funds and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She was also teaching Entrepreneurship Finance at the Prague University of Economics and actively contributed to the startup landscape.
Smaranda Ignat is a Romanian entrepreneur, trainer, business consultant, mentor, and adviser for both traditional business organizations and tech startups. Having a background in human resources, business administration, real estate, and innovation, she connects people with opportunities, facilitating access to clients, investors, and international ecosystems for startups.
Stefi Vasilopoulou is a Greek entrepreneur, consultant, and angel investor. Over the last 15 years, she founded innovative ventures and developed new ideas in the sectors of the Internet, Tourism & Wellness. She is the host of the first Greek Podcast “The SomaPnevma Show” and the founder of Orama VC. “I am helping exceptional entrepreneurs, investors, and startups connect, scale, and succeed,” mentioned Stefi for The Recursive Podcast.
Seasoned in venture investing, Thalia represents the Greek female investors. She has gained experience from both the corporate and venture capital world, giving her the know-how to support tech startups. Following an education in mechanical engineering as well as financial engineering, Thaleia developed a passion for Robotics, AI, and gaming and recently invested in NeuroVirt, VR rehabilitation software that hеlps strokе survivors livе fully.
Starting her career as a financial analyst, Viktoria is today a supporter of female founders. She is well known in the Bulgarian startup community because of her activities at FAME, a community promoting entrepreneurial & investment activities among women. Viktoria is actively looking for female founders to whom she offers her mentorship and investment.
Passionate about the dynamic startup world, Victoria is a day-to-day supporter. Originally from Serbia, twice scholar in the UK and settled in Limassol, Cyprus, she has several hats in the international business including General Manager of one of the largest diversified holdings active in CEE. On the side, Victoria is also a mentor to startups and an advisor to scaleups and multinationals. Verticals of interest: Fintech, EdTech, WealthTech, Future of Work/Living/Wellbeing.
Vladimíra Činčurová is an ecosystems builder active in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Currently, she works as a Partner Development Manager at Microsoft, managing the Microsoft for Startups program in Czechia and Slovakia, a program for B2B startups. She invests in strong partnerships with local accelerators, investors, innovation hubs, and community groups, and connects startups with relevant contacts and mentors to help them scale further and faster. She is also co-founder of Lumus Investment Collective – the biggest female angel investment club in Eastern Europe, connecting female angel investors with startups in the CEE.