LCIF on International Women's Day 2019

08 March 2019

From Angel News

Breaking boundaries: embracing the landscape for Female Founders

"London Co-investment Fund's Flavia Richardson comments on why we need to change the landscape for female entrepreneurs.

This week we are celebrating the International Women’s Day, a reminder of the continuous struggle for equality of opportunity. A few major research projects conducted by Atomico VC, Diversity VC, and British Business Bank, have corroborated the narrative felt by many women while fundraising.

While the outcome highlighted hard truths for the investment sector and the innovation economy, it has also provided us with the key to a brighter and more inclusive tomorrow, if we change our approaches.

In Europe, the situation is borderline alarming as an estimated 93% of all VC funding went to all-men founding teams, leaving the mixed and all-women ones with a meagre 7%. It makes previous studies on the diversity of boards in listed companies, almost a pleasant read.

In the UK, the situation is only marginally better with 83% of all VC funding going to all-men founding teams. Introspecting, London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF) presents an improved scenario, as over 22% of all portfolio companies have Female co-founders. 

We are proud to see our female-led businesses equally as performant as our male-led founders. We are resonating with the more extensive studies in the early stage and growth technology start-ups and scale-ups.

Even though female-led businesses continue to be systematically underfunded and undervalued in early-stage funding rounds and subsequently, female-led businesses demonstrated an enhanced utilisation of capital and a superior ratio of revenue generated per pound spent. It is an argument for diversity and inclusion, women and other minorities have incredible value to add, and we, the investors, have a lot to lose if our outreach is limited to our closed network.

In an ecosystem systematically failing minorities, a group claiming less 1% of all VC capital invested, LCIF presents a contrasting picture, one that is diverse with 20.6% BAME.

At Funding London, we believe that our local economy and our activities should at their very core support and represent the populations. Through partnerships with leading VCs, syndicates, and Capital Enterprise,  we engineered a system engaging at the grassroots and the fringes of our ecosystem, partnering with entrepreneurs at the very early stages of their journey.

To improve the narrative, which we are incredibly well positioned to measure, we must start by listening and consulting with female-led and minorities-led businesses. Over the last few years, we have organised with Capital Enterprise several editions of the Green Light Programmes, and over 30 different activities within our portfolio. Seeking to share the insight we have partnered with the Greater London Authority’s Growth Hub to co-develop a series of three events to support BAME and women entrepreneurs in February and March 2019.

Engaging with our LCIF portfolio, we have concluded that the adoption of specialist seed funding programmes could generate more funding opportunities for female and minority founders. These entrepreneurs often raise smaller funding rounds, which results in reducing the pool of potential investors available to them.  It inevitably rules out a vast majority of VC’s which unsurprisingly creates a reliance on angel investors.

The female founders applying to the London Co-Investment Fund frequently request coaching on presentation skills and building confidence. Our assessment highlights that during the pre-investment period, incubation and coaching, stand out as critical areas for intervention.

In 2019, we should not let the past dictate the rules upon which the future will be built. We all can ensure that women and minorities are never the exception and always the norm."

Find out more