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Female Founders accelerator – your questions answered by the Allia team

Our next Impact Accelerator, which we regularly run to help founders of environmentally and socially focused ventures to grow, thrive and achieve greater success – has a female founders focus, and will run in January. We wanted to know more about the issues that women face and share what we believe will make our Female Founders accelerator the best support programme around – so we held an information session to meet and discuss matters with interested entrepreneurs. 

Why female founders? 

The venture support team at Allia recognised that female entrepreneurs are consistently faced with gender bias as well as the other hurdles that all founders face. Amongst other evidence, this statistic says a lot: For every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p, all-male founder teams get 89p, and mixed-gender teams 10p (British Business Bank VC female founders report).  

We created this programme to provide female entrepreneurs with the tools to tackle the challenges they face as women in the start-up space.   

You asked, we answered 

What’s the time commitment? Is it possible to do this alongside a full time job? 

The programme runs for 6 months, including regular workshops usually on a weekly basis. The programme is collaborative, so we’d expect lots of engagement between speakers and participants. We’ve partnered with different investors who will be available for 121s and advice, plus the Allia team offers a range of support where we can dive deep into your business and strategy.  

We understand that people have commitments, but to ensure you get the most out of the programme, as a minimum, we’d expect you to commit to attending 75% (~20) of our workshops/sessions throughout the 6-months. Sessions will vary depending on topic but will on average occur twice per month. Dates for all workshops will be provided as early as possible, and additional 1-1 mentoring meetings (running throughout) can be virtual and scheduled at your convenience. 

Does fully funded and free mean you don’t ask for equity? 

We don’t take on any equity to be part of this programme. It’s fully funded, so you can join for free without any strings attached! The only requirement is we ask you to provide some data from your business such as how much funds you’ve raised, how many jobs you’ve created, how many people you’ve supported etc. Our funders do care about the work that we are doing and we need to provide them with impact reports to share our programmes success.  

As a Black female founder, I am aware that less than 1% of investment is made to people like me, partly down to bias, is this something your programme takes into account and addresses? 

We acknowledge that there are more challenges facing people in the BAME community and it’s something we are working to address. For example, we will try to engage entrepreneurs who are of colour with investors who are of colour too, if this is welcomed by the individuals. We are very conscious about who we work with. Cornerstone Partners (one of the investors we partner with) focuses on how it can support people of colour in achieving more equity.  

We have a diverse representation from the investor judges that we bring into our pitch days. We have many female investors and investors that are people of colour; we need to see better representation in the financial sector, so we’re putting that into practice. Allia is working to represent as many people as possible within the female founders programme and that includes people from all walks of life.  

Could you give an example of the sorts of businesses you’ve supported previously? 

We have a very diverse range of businesses that we’ve supported. The spaces they work in range from food and beverage, to tech for good, renewable energy, or fintech for example . We’ve also worked with many social enterprises who are tackling issues such as homelessness, climate change, loneliness or children’s literacy.  

What are the main requirements in your selection process ? 

The basic requirement is to operate in, or benefit the area of either Hackney, Peterborough or Cambridge (including greater Cambridgeshire). You’ll also need to be over 18 years old. The programme is only for female founders or females in a senior role such as CEO, CTO, Co-founder or CMO. We welcome transgender womxn, non-binary and genderfluid individuals to apply.   

In terms of where you are in your journey, you should be building your MVP (minimum viable product) or looking at getting adopters on board, and aiming for investment in the next 6 – 12 months. The other requirement is for your business to have an impact focus by addressing an issue that affects people, place or planet.  

Who do you work with when it comes to fundraising? 

We work with a broad network of different stakeholders ranging from investors, to private offices or venture capitalists. Some examples include Two Magnolias, Sustainable Ventures, UKBAA, Green Angel Syndicate, Cornerstone VC and Cambridge Angels. We work with impact investors, so the values, goals and visions are aligned between all parties. We will introduce you to the right kind of people who we think can help you best. 

What happens after the Accelerator ends? 

We focus a lot on getting you pitch ready, but we engage with you far beyond the end of the programme. We will be around to support you with any questions you have for as long as you need. We’re not getting money for you to sign up, so when we look at investing in you, we’re simply trying to make a difference. Once we build a relationship with you it makes it easier to introduce you to an investor or a potential partner when the communication remains open beyond the programme. We love staying in touch with alumni from our programmes and seeing them grow!  

Is there access to a co-working space? 

We choose set co-working days for people on the cohort so that they can work alongside one another, get to know each other and their business, and act as peer support. We have our own business centres and other co-working spaces that are ideal for this. However, if you’d like to come in on another day to use the co-working space, we can arrange that for you provided we have space free. 

I am still unsure about what programme to apply for. Can I organise a call to speak about my current situation and business plan? 

Yes! Drop us an email on hello@alliaimpact.co.uk and we can arrange a time that suits. We’re more than happy to chat to you to make sure you apply to the programme that suits your needs. 

Where can I find more information? 

You can read all about out Impact Accelerator programme for female founders here, with links to apply: futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/programmes/impact-accelerator/ 

The programme is due to launch 23rd January and the deadline for applications is 3rd January 2023. 

By Sophie Fryer 04 Jan 2023