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Women entrepreneurship feature ;

Women entrepreneurs need confidence to thrive

Across different job roles, industries and even education, a lack of diversity between genders have proven controversial. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs, but what is the true extent of the issue?

According to The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, women typically have higher risk-awareness than men and are more cautious about starting or scaling a business, limiting their willingness to risk their livelihood on an uncertain venture. Not only that, women are less likely to believe they have entrepreneurial skills, with only 39% of women stating that they are confident in their capabilities to start a business compared with 55% of men.

King’s Entrepreneurship Institute has been committed to closing the gender gap in recent years by supporting females through mentoring and learning opportunities, boosting their confidence to compete more strongly with male founders. This year’s King’s20 Accelerator cohort has for the first time exceeded gender parity with 11 out of 20 of its founders being women, all with a vision to create an impact in different sectors such as technology, lifestyle, social, food and health to name but a few.

Women’s confidence in entrepreneurship is key, and we are working hard to empower women by giving them the skills, advice and networks that will make their investment opportunities more equal to the outcomes of those from male-led ventures. Our passion stems from the inspirational and creative women entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow and until we achieve gender parity, it will remain our mission. We aim to become the first university accelerator to reach gender parity, sustainably, getting there each year by building a reputation, a pipeline, a brand, champion alumni and more.– Julie Devonshire OBE, Director of King’s Entrepreneurship Institute

Amongst the cohort feature ‘Muslimah’ by Aysha Ingar, an app which serves British Muslim women, who face everyday challenges in their faith. Aysha’s Muslimah app offers their females friendly prayer room locators, Islamic period tracker, modest fashion directories and much more, making it simpler for Muslim woman to fit life around faith.

Another female-led venture is ‘My Mind Matters Too’ serving young people aged 16 to 24, who either attend school, university or are in employment, run by Meg Zeenat Wamithi. Meg’s mental health consultancy offers their users an opportunity to shape how their schools or employers engage and interact with their mental health by creating spaces for young people to share their views and co-design programmes and services that will be utilised in their area of study or work. The full list of the 2019/2020 business ventures can be found here.

The Alison Rose Review also found that women are less likely than men to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to sponsors, mentors or professional support networks. While 31% of women surveyed highlighted the importance of networking as a business skill, compared to 21% of men, only 30% of women said they already knew an entrepreneur, versus 38% of men. Traditional networking methods are also a challenge and a lack of professional networks was perceived as a particularly important barrier by newer female entrepreneurs.

We have observed that sometimes women entrepreneurs suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ more than their male counterparts; they sometimes judge their ventures, ideas and endeavors more harshly than men do. This can mean that as women entrepreneurs come to a ‘gate’ on their entrepreneurial journeys, they sometimes don’t step through as readily as some of their male counterparts. Women entrepreneurs can miss out on support from mentors, accelerator, networks, and investors when, actually, their ideas are equally as valid as others and are destined to thrive. Our job has been to make sure that all valid ideas pass through each gate.– Julie Devonshire

Another initiative which aims to solve the women’s networking challenges uncovered in the Rose Review is King’s Entrepreneurship Institute’s Women Entrepreneurs Programme. The programme is open to all King’s women: students, staff and alumni, to increase their exposure to entrepreneurial skills, knowledge sharing and community building. It is a space for passionate women to come together and thrive. The programme provides support including discussion events with industry leaders, practical workshops, networking opportunities, mentoring and a two-day retreat. Aysha and Meg found that the retreat gave them the confidence to apply for King’s20 and commit to excelling their ventures.

The retreat has been specially designed to give women robust insight about idea validation and pitching in order to make a solid application to the King’s20 Accelerator Programme. Alumna Melissa Fearon said: “I felt supported, inspired and empowered throughout the Women’s Entrepreneur Retreat. I learned more in the weekend than I have in a long time. I feel excited about staying in touch with the network and the friendships that have since formed.”

Samantha Tebb, MA student in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, who has now joined the King’s20 Accelerator Programme, felt inspired by the mentoring experience the Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme offers: “It’s great to know that there’s a network of women entrepreneurs are out there, willing to back me up with their time, insight and energy.”

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme is supported by Santander Universities and is open for applications from passionate women who are thinking of taking the leap to either create or further develop a business venture. So far, it has even become a feeder programme which itself has turned into a feeder programme for King’s20.

We are delighted to be partnering with King’s College London, and specifically, King’s Entrepreneurship Institute, on the Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the initiative will bring to the next generation of female entrepreneurs, and supporting King’s in their ambition to achieve gender parity across all entrepreneurship activities.– Louise Fairleigh, Relationship Manager at Santander Universities UK

Since King’s20 was launched in 2016, its ventures have gone on to raise over £14million in investment and generate over £11million in revenue, as well as employing over 250 people. King’s20 applications for 2020-2021 will open in April 2020. 

*data taken from The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship

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