Five female founders driving change

UK start-ups have already attracted a huge $30bn in investment this year. Ranked third globally behind just China and the USA, the UK’s thriving start-up ecosystem continues to attract huge interest from investors around the world.

Despite this soaring investment there has been little progress made when it comes to addressing the gender funding gap. Back in 2017 the British Business Bank commissioned a report that identified that only 1p of every £1 of venture capital (VC) funding went to all-female founder teams. Four years later and not a great deal has changed. Despite the volume of investment flooding in to the UK, only 1.4% of this year’s total went to all-female founding teams.

Female entrepreneurship continues to rise regardless of these obstacles and here are some of the female founders that are paving the way.

Uma Rajah: CapitalRise
Bringing over 10 years of experience in the FinTech space having worked at leading consumer lenders Wonga, Rajah co-founded property lending platform CapitalRise in 2016.

Her second venture in to the start-up space, Rajah’s first business unfortunately failed during the financial crisis however this passion for entrepreneurship remained and CapitalRise already looks to be a success. Five years post-launch the business has secured almost £40m in investment and have originated more than £500m of loans.

Sharmadean Reid: The Stack World, WAH Nails, Beauty Stack

Beauty, technology and media entrepreneur Reid is one of the UK’s most successful up and coming business leaders. Acting as mentor to several other black female entrepreneurs, MBE Reid hopes to use the invaluable experience she has gained scaling multiple start-ups (even throughout the pandemic) in order to support the next generation of founders.

Reid started out by launching WAH, a hip-hop magazine while she was still at University. WAH then developed further with WAH Nails emerging as a side hussle three years later. WAH Nails took off, partnering with 100s of brands across the globe while Reid also continued to organise business events for other like-minded entrepreneurs. The brand developed further becoming Beautystack in 2018, achieving funding from high-profile VC firms Local Globe and Index Ventures.

Michelle You: Supercritical

Launched to help tackle the climate crisis, Supercritical was founded this year with a mission to help businesses get to Net Zero. Supercritical’s innovative software enables firms to measure their carbon footprint while also providing actionable recommendations on how to make reductions as well as recommending a portfolio of carbon removal offsets that firms can then purchase.

Primarily targeting tech businesses, despite only launching in 2021 the business already has a number of clients including Tide, what3words as well as backers LocalGlobe. With the COP26 Climate Conference dominating the news agenda the next few months are going to be vital for You and Supercritical and we will look forward to seeing how the firm continues to evolve.

Kathryn Parsons: Decoded

Founded in 2011, Decoded was born with a mission to demystify the digital world. Supporting businesses including Unilever, Mastercard and Nike, Decoded’s work teaching code, data and cyber skills has reached more than half a million people from cities across the globe, a long way from the firm’s humble beginnings around a kitchen table in East London!

Parsons is a passionate advocate for the power of coding and sees it as the next great language of the world. Having successfully campaigned for coding to become mandatory on the UK National Curriculum in 2014 the female founder has since been awarded an MBE from the Queen and has also agreed to teach our very own Prince George to code.

Sherry Vaswani: Xalient

With more than 130 employees and revenues North of £23m last year, Leeds-based Xalient are one of a crop of tech-first innovators springing out of the region. Headed up by Vaswani the business has grown rapidly since launch in 2015 and has recently been recognised by Dun & Bradstreet as the sixth fastest growing tech firm in the UK.

Targeted primarily at Enterprise-scale businesses, Xalient are an IT managed service provider born out of the cloud. Already working with global business leaders including WPP and Kellogg’s the business is well placed to capitalise on the increasing importance of network security and the growing volume of firms transitioning to the cloud.

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