When we launched the Women Entrepreneurs Network (WEN) back in 2018, only 1 in 3 businesses were led by women. This is equivalent to nearly £1.1 million worth of missing businesses. An estimated £250 billion would be added to the UK economy if women were supported to match the rate men scale and grow businesses.
At the end of 2021 only 0.02% of UK VC funding went to businesses led by Black women.
Women-led companies represented one fifth of all businesses in the UK in 2022.
You don’t need me to tell you that women do amazing things despite these statistics, but why are women-led businesses still not getting the support and money they need to make the most impact possible?
Today, we have women tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals in every sector, from sustainable solutions to fast fashion (Sojo), a wearable menopause symptom reliever (CoolZen), an AI-enabled biomarker cancer diagnostics (Panakeia), Keto & Diabetes friendly ice cream with a social conscience (The Good Portion) and sustainable renewable energy access (Uwana). And that’s just a handful of our 1000+ community.
WEN grew out of a need to help break down barriers facing women-identifying entrepreneurs. We initially set out to achieve gender parity on our King’s20 Accelerator. Last year we achieved this for the third consecutive year and the network has grown to become so much more.
Just as there’s no one way to be a woman entrepreneur, there’s also no one way to support them. WEN offers community, collaboration, skills building and access, to anyone who identifies as a woman, in any sector and any business. The community is a unique combination of King’s students, staff and alumni, all at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
Running a business can be an isolating experience, so we make time to learn from each other, (if you’ve been through it, chances are someone else has too) and build collaborative opportunities to support one another, whether that’s through workshops, weekly check-ins, or our annual weekend Retreat.
It’s a huge privilege to support so many women who are not only changing the world but also changing stereotypes. They’re changing what we see as success, they’re sharing their vulnerabilities, mistakes and successes, and making entrepreneurship a truly innovative human experience. They’re helping to make starting your own business an increasingly attainable concept and creating impact big and small, along the way.
But it’s still not easy. Intersectional barriers still exist, assumptions still exist, financial disparity still exists, and change can feel slow. At WEN we’re working to find new ways to help change systemic barriers. We’re focusing on supporting our community to get access to investment, and to enable women-led businesses to make the huge positive economic impact we know is possible, whilst still upholding their values and positive impact on the world.
Over the last 4 and a half years WEN has grown to 1000+ members. If we teach you just one thing about being an entrepreneur, it’s that there’s no wrong way to do it, other than not trying it at all.