By Pip Wilson, CEO and founder of the LawTech start-up amicable
It still shocks me that just 20% of UK businesses have female founders. And, that female-run businesses receive little over 2% of venture capital funding. Last week’s news that WeWork raised $1.5b in 2019, more than all female-founded companies did in the same period is a truly depressing statistic. In a generation that debates the need for gender equality on a daily basis – these are astonishing stats and shouldn’t be leading an article written in 2020.
There are, of courses examples of female entrepreneurs who have risen to the top of their industries. Berlin-based health and period tracking app, Clue, founded by Ida Tin now has well over 100 million users and raised $10million. While, Grab, the Singaporean founded transport business co-founded by Tan Hooi Ling, that is rivalling Uber serves around 36 million people and is currently valued at $10billion. Why are these examples the exception rather than the norm? And what can we do to move towards equality in the sphere of entrepreneurship?
As CEO and founder of the LawTech start-up, amicable, an angel investor, a trustee of The Girl’s Network and a Mum of three, it’s been fascinating to observe and experience this gap through very different lenses.
We’ve all watched the world shift and prioritise, so progressively, in many areas to make way for gender equality. What tangible things can be done to lessen the gender gap in entrepreneurship?
Real role models
We need to ditch unrealistic stereotypes of being a business leader. Our focus should be to celebrate and promote ‘normal’ women in our networks who are authentic and honest about the highs and lows of successful entrepreneurship. The world needs more diverse examples of women from all backgrounds who juggle work and their personal life. This, in turn, gives confidence to those considering setting up a business that it is possible even if you are older or have children.
Mentors and networks
The value and benefits of mentorship are obvious but finding and connecting with the right one/s is tough and can be challenging to maintain. If you search for mentorship online now, you’d likely struggle to find someone with relevant experience, who are vetted, available, free or not too expensive. Rethinking the classic mentorship model would lead to better connections, learning and growth.
The AllBright, for example, is a member’s club that is ‘designed for and by women’. They aim to connect, inspire and teach an international network of ambitious females. What I think makes this concept work so well is their understanding and female-focused business networks are wanted and needed.
It’s also important to recognise that we all consume networks in different ways; you don’t have to attend a networking event if that’s not your thing. Podcasts, for example, are probably the most successful networking tools for entrepreneurs. At amicable, we created ‘The Divorce Podcast’, and it was brilliantly successful. Not only did it allow us to change the narrative from usually disastrous divorce stories that are often featured in the press, but it also led to fantastic conversations with people who are interested in and influential in the industry we operate in.
More access to finance
Access to finance can be vital to growing a business, and this is often a key issue and feels stacked against female entrepreneurs. Part of the problem is how few women are in the decision-making positions within VC firms. Considering women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions, it’s even more surprising that 93% of VC’s making investment decisions are male!
VC’s should work to improve their gender balance, and high earning women should consider angel investing. There are some brilliant angel groups such as Angel Academe focusing on female-run businesses and helping women become angel investors.
Flexible and remote working
Over the next few months, ways of working will shift unrecognizably on a global scale. This could be a game-changer for many businesses who will have to develop remote and flexible working.
The cost analysis behind remote working is often debated; however, the broader benefits of working remotely are often missed. One profound and immediate impact on over half of the working-age population – is that it could play a crucial role in narrowing the gender gap in entrepreneurship.