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Fund Her North celebrates 2nd birthday with £4.5m raised for 14 female-led businesses to date!



In the darkest days of the first Covid lockdown a group of Northern women working in VC’s, PE and angel groups responded to my email suggesting that we should come together collaboratively to overcome the barriers facing Northern Women in trying to get funding. To my immense surprise at the time they all showed up on our first zoom call……!


I’m more enlightened now, this is an awesome bunch of women who are not only smashing their own careers but also want to CHANGE this environment.


Now, two years on, we’re so much better informed about the SCALE of that challenge.


At Fund Her North’s 2nd birthday celebration last week we heard that in 2021, in the North, just £20m was raised by 17 female led teams, facts shared by Judith Hartley, CEO of British Business Investments. This represents just 0.1% of the total investment raised in the UK and makes the odds very high if you happen to be a woman based in the North seeking funding; it’s the cumulative impact of both the geographical and gender funding gap.


Back to the story; less than six months after that initial zoom call Fund Her North was framed, named and launched.


Fund Her North helps all women founders, at every investment stage, by connecting them to women inside a wide range of Northern investment organisations. We do this because we know that a warm introduction means that a female founder is THREE TIMES more likely to pass the initial screening, we then go on to support them through the nuances of each fund's internal investment process.


We’ve organised big, successful events however we are primarily focussed on impact; Fund Her North has now raised £4.5 million in 14 deals, formed a new women angel syndicate; the aptly named 'Women Angels of the North', we’ve supported over 50 women inside Nat West’s accelerator to get them investor ready, given 80+ women meaningful investment advice and hit 500 on our membership platform.

It’s also been a joy to watch a number of Fund Her North co-founders who were on those original calls, be recognised in a series of new appointments and promotions across the Northern investment landscape. It makes our ultimate aim of making the North an environment where female founders and women in investment thrive just that bit closer.


Birthdays are an opportunity for reflection, giving gratitude for all the good times (and there have been many in the two years, not least meeting so many amazing women in investment), considering the progress made and anticipating the challenges to come.


I've been giving much thought to Fund Her North Board member Jess Jackson's recent LinkedIn post quite rightly posed the question which I’ve reframed as ‘are we pissing in the wind’. The percentage of money raised by all female, or co-led teams hasn't changed much in the past three years, remaining at less than 5% and less than 15% respectively, and whilst the focus that Alison Rose has created on this issue has risen from a whisper to a much louder voice, at the current rate of change it’s going to take considerably longer than 2030 to get to the 30% target which she set.


And then there’s the fact that the statistics have now been so widely quoted that they no longer shock.


It’s actions which are going to accelerate progress not talking, so here are the four things which I think would answer Jess’s challenging questions if the Northern investment ecosystem and Fund Her North are going to lead the change required:

  1. Quotas for pipeline and pitch events inside all investment organisations - yes some of the female founded businesses may be a little earlier in the development stage however this builds more visibility and support for what's coming down the line, as well as building internal alignment and capability.

  2. More women on investment panels helping to make investment decisions. A number of the funding organisations inside Fund Her North’s network have appointed a significant number of women into their teams; I’d call out Northern Gritstone, Foresight and Praetura as exemplars, however more needs to be done if we are to speed up progress.

  3. More women angels in VCT funds and in angel groups. The Women Angels of the North syndicate has just hit 40 members however there must be a much larger number of potential women investors around than is currently visible.

  4. A significant government backed co-investment fund for supporting female founders alongside institutional and angel money. Thanks to Judith Hartley and Emily Nott for engaging with us on this issue.

  5. More VCs and funding organisations joining the Investing in Women Code. Well done to YFM, Fund her North members, who have just joined the ranks of those who have.

So a huge thanks to everyone who has been on the journey with us, from a cold start we’ve made some big leaps forward, however no one is more aware than us that it’s just the first steps on the journey. I know we’ll have got there when we see an equal representation of all women led teams, or co-led teams, in the PR shots for Northern funding rounds closed as we do for all male teams.


Thanks to UBS, Nat West, British Business Bank, BHP Accountants, Gordons LLP, Jenny Tooth, Gurpreet Manku, Bina Mehta, Emily Nott, Jane Booth, Heather Waters, Jordan Dargue, Charlotte Ashton, Chi Chi Ekweozor, Sam Piddington, Fiona Hatch, Jess Jackson, Amirah Darr, Jack Lam, Lily Piddington, Charlotte Scott, James Prickett for making Fund Her North what it is today.


For making the birthday event so special; Judith Hartley, Julia Elliot Brown, Jane Booth, Marion Bernard, Addie Pinkster, Jenny Tooth and Gurpeet Manku. YFM for supplying some special thank yous and the cake, Praetura for the photographer and UBS for being hosts.


Written by: Helen Oldham


If you're a Northern female-led business looking to raise investment or an angel investor/funder looking to support female founders - sign up to become a member at www.fundehernorth.com


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