The UK, and London in particular, has one of the most vibrant start-up scenes in the world. Sadly, this vibrancy doesn’t currently extend to gender diversity, with a huge under-representation of women as both entrepreneurs and investors. A recent report by the British Business Bank found for every £1 of venture capital investment, less than 1p goes to all-female led teams.
In response Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, called for more investment to go into start-up ventures and more women putting businesses forward. Angel investment is the lifeblood of early stage start-ups and a greater flow of capital into female start-ups at this stage would have a game-changing impact. The challenge is the number of female angel investors is also pitifully low. The investor community on 14-year-old Angel Investment Network in the UK consists of around 17,000 angel investors, but less than 10% of these are women.
It is why we have recently launched a new platform connecting female founders and investors. The new platform will showcase women-led businesses and help them find investment and mentoring from female investors. Although of course men can back female businesses, the evidence shows women investors will have an added insight and empathy for businesses led by women.
There is a diverse and exciting selection of women-led businesses on the platform for launch including:
- Tumelo, a sustainable investment platform that helps you invest in the stock market into portfolios that align with your values, and brings you closer to the companies you own so together our community can influence positive change;
- Ebisu, a Digital healthcare service with advanced telecommunication video technology and Bluetooth diagnostic equipment to give same-day access to GPs, Advanced Practitioners and Counsellors for public use;
- Airex “AirExis a smart ventilation control (‘intelligent air-brick’) that reduces heat demand in homes without compromising damp and indoor air quality. It uses AI to predict occupants’ behaviour and weather patterns.
These are brilliant female-led businesses that deserve support. Creating an online platform is the first step in a wider mission to develop female representation within the industry through community events and meetups as well as a digital network. Why is this important? Networking is such a vital part of business and creating long-lasting relationships. But it is called ‘the old boy’s network’ for a reason. Creating a community of like-minded women can have that same impact, nurturing and developing new businesses, offering a hand up to female founders.
Another barrier to growing the pool of female investors is perhaps more caution in investing in start-ups. Women beginning their journey as investors may need to invest in more popular businesses before they have the confidence to take the ultimate risk in backing start-ups.
The best way to start to shift the dial is giving women a louder and larger support network. Through this we can transform business, answer consumer needs and solve problems facing humanity. London is leading the world in supporting start-ups. Let’s achieve the same fame for encouraging the diversity of those start-ups.