Richard Branson pledges equal funding for female-founded start-ups

  • Richard Branson is pledging to fund more female-founded start-ups through his Virgin Startup venture, so that companies started by both men and women are equally supported. 

    The company announced in their press release on Monday that this initiative makes it "the first business funder in the UK to promise equal backing for men and women." They went on to state that real change was needed to close the funding gap between male and female entrepreneurs.

    Virgin Startup is Branson's non-profit organisation, that helps entrepreneurs in England with the funding, resources and advice they'll need to make their business idea a reality, according to their website. 

    A 2018 report by venture capital (VC) firm Atomico, found that only 6% of European venture-backed startups last year had a female CEO. 93% of venture capital funding in Europe went to all-male teams. The report also notes that overall, women account for just 22% of participants in tech-related 'meetup' events across Europe.

    A study back in February 2019 from the government-owned British Business Bank found that for every £1 of VC investment in the UK, all-female founder teams receive less than one pence, while mixed-gender teams get around 10 pence.

    Virgin Startup is joining a list of global companies aiming to improve the amount of funding given to female-founded companies. Ana Duggal, founding partner of the New York VC, Female Founders Fund, told CNBC: “The gender gap in funding is not sustainable." In May 2019 her organization announced it was launching a second fund worth $27 million that would help early stage female-founded companies.

    Elsewhere, the female-led VC firm SoGal Ventures is investing in early stage companies with diverse founding teams across Asia and the United States and late last year, Red Capital Partners — a VC fund with operations in Madrid and Tel Aviv — launched a fund dedicated to investing in start-ups co-founded by women. 

    In February 2019, Sync NI questioned the reason as to why female entrepreneurs get billions less in funding, and in 2017 reported on the non-profit organisation FairFunders that was set up to tackle gender bias and sexual harrassment in venture capital.

    Find out more information on Virgin Startup's 50:50 gender funding pledge here. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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