How to tap into funding for female entrepreneurs

New report draws on academic research and advice from the UK’s most successful female founders to address the gender scale up gap.

This morning, 21st March 2017, The Entrepreneurs Network in partnership with Barclays will launch Untapped Unicorns, a report outlining how Britain can scale up female entrepreneurship.

The study, part of The Entrepreneurs Network/Barclays-led Female Founders Forum project, shows that access to funding remains a persistent barrier to female entrepreneurs, yet is essential for enterprise growth.

It offers tangible, actionable recommendations, including:

Improving data collection and tracking women’s progress

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should provide data on growth businesses. The government should also work with the UK Business Angels Association to provide statistics on returns offered by women-founded businesses at the angel level to encourage and increase in early-stage investing;

Paying it forward

We encourage all female founders to take matters into their own hands and invest in fellow female entrepreneurs. We would like to see mentoring initiatives launched across the UK to ensure female entrepreneurs get the coaching they need to scale.

Challenging stereotypes

The media should cover more women-led businesses – in particular those operating in male-dominated industries.

Promoting diversity

The VC industry should acknowledge biases within the sphere and consider adjusting the ratio of male:female employees.

The report’s top line statistics, drawn from a range of external academic studies, interviews, surveys or new data commissioned by The Entrepreneurs Network:

Women led businesses achieve far lower levels of funding, with male entrepreneurs 86 per cent more likely to be VC funded, and 56 per cent more likely to secure angel investment.

Female participation in business ownership is directly associated with higher credit rejection probability. In 2016, 86 per cent of deals involved companies without a single female founder, just 14 per cent involved companies with at least one.

In 2016, 91 per cent of investment was directed into companies without a single female founder, just 9 per cent with at least one.

A third (34 per cent) of male entrepreneurs have seen a business go under compared with 23 per cent of female founders.

Women entrepreneurs bring in 20 per cent more revenue with 50 per cent less money invested.

Eight per cent of fundraisers that raised capital through equity-based crowdfunding platforms in 2015 were women.

Since 2011, investments into companies with no female directors on their board average £2.9 million, add a single female board member and that figure increases by £500,000.

Most (83 per cent) of women who have started their own business have known someone else who has done so.

In recent years, the number of female angels has more than quadrupled, thanks in a large part to the rise of alternative finance.

Finance remains the number one concern for female entrepreneurs. Nearly half also claim that the lack of available mentors poses a significant challenge.

Related: Top 9 women founders leading the UK’s high-growth UK scale-ups

Members of the Female Founders Forum include Small Business Minister and former entrepreneur Margot James MP, Sara Murray OBE ( and Tamara Lohan MBE (Mr & Mrs Smith). Over the past year they’ve joined heads with key figures from within the finance industry to share experience and help draw up recommendations for ensuring female entrepreneurs secure the finance to scale.

To mark the launch of the report, an evening reception will be held at Cocoon Networks with Guests of Honour Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Commercial Secretary to the Treasury), Edwina Dunn (Author, The Female Lead) and Emma Sinclair MBE (Co-Founder, EnterpriseJungle). At 29, Sinclair IPO’d a business on the London Stock Exchange and remains the youngest person to do so.

At the launch, EnterpriseJungle co-founder and Female Founders Forum member Emma Sinclair MBE says, ‘Fundraising is always tough. Each time I raise money, it brings its own set of challenges dictated by the type of company, jurisdiction, offering and sector. Knowing all your options matters.’

Debbie Wosskow OBE, Female Founders Forum member and co-founder of AllBright, adds, ‘Female Founders are underfunded and yet deliver great returns for investors. I hope that, through the Female Founders Forum and my new investment platform AllBright, we can change the conversation for the future.’

Annabel Denham, programmes director at The Entrepreneurs Network, says, ‘It is a frustrating reality that a significant proportion of funding – be it at seed of Series C+ level – goes towards male founded or led businesses. This is not just an economic discussion, though we know scale-ups are vital to the UK economy: we want to see smart, savvy businesswomen getting the same opportunities as their male counterparts.’

Further reading on female entrepreneurs

Useful link: – Looking for funding? Find the right finance for your business here

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Female Entrepreneurs