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Why We Need More Female Founders, And How We Get Them

Blog, Leeds
two women working at Platform

AUTHOR; Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation Services

You’ve read the headlines, you’ve seen the reports. Female startup founders are in short supply. But why? There are many suggestions as to why; women are risk averse so don’t suit the entrepreneurial world, women are too busy raising families, or my favourite, it’s a man’s world.

The landscape of business founders across the UK hasn’t changed drastically in the past 50 years. Although Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) have become more prevalent as a topic of conversation, tangible actions and results are less apparent.

According to company insight platform Crunchbase, only 12% of Unicorns in 2021 worldwide had female founders or co-founders. Closer to home in the UK, only 4% of the fastest growing tech startups are founded by women and on average, female-founded businesses receive 40% less funding than their male counterparts but turn over 20% more. But these stats are at odds with the success of companies founded or led by females. Female led businesses are proven time and time again to generate higher revenues, outperform their male counterparts, and have significantly lower failure rates, according to recent MIT research.

The fact that the lack of female founders is being talked about is obviously a good thing, but the problem with conversation is that very little actually gets done. I’ve sat around enough tables, discussing the importance of EDI to know that we all have the very best intentions, but the bottom line is we either a) don’t know where to start or b) don’t have the resource or time to commit to making the difference at grass roots to level the playing field. We live in a commercially driven world, where results are crucial and the speed at which those results are achieved is often even more so.

So whose responsibility is it to take the time to nurture and support female founders? Who should be creating an effective and encouraging environment to allow female founders to step out of their comfort zones, into the world of business, and succeed? For me, the answer is all of us.

In order to support the next generation of female founders, leaders and entrepreneurs, we all have a part to play. From local councils, successful founders, large corporates, and educators.

We're trying to help provide further support from our Female Founders Incubator programme which first ran in our Leeds tech hub, Platform, from September last year. Seven founders went through the programme which included access to 1:1 mentoring with like-minded CEOs and experts across marketing, legal, accounting, funding support and IP to support their growth.

Marina Prokoiosifi, one of last year's founders from the company Dinerley, shared: "I feel like Bruntwood SciTech opened their arms and provided us with all the correct help, support, guidance and mentorship straight away. I've created connections as well as friendships for life." 

After great success we are welcoming our second cohort of female founders in Leeds and now for the first time bringing the programme to Greater Manchester as well.

To find out more and apply, click here.

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