Spotlighting leading women angels and initiatives driving change for International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today (8th March 2023), it’s timely to reflect on the progress UKBAA and the wider early-stage ecosystem has made, as well as the work to be done, in terms of supporting women founders and angels.

At UKBAA we’re deeply passionate about growing women founders across the UK and increasing the number of women angels. Understanding their impact on the economy and supporting women at every stage of their journey is incredibly important to us. Angel investment is one of the most significant sources of risk capital for founders as they set out to build and grow their business. And it isn’t just from an equity standpoint, but advice, guidance, network building and more.

“One of the key challenges we face is the continuing low proportion of female angel investors, which limits the pool of equity capital available to support entrepreneurial growth and innovation. Notably, our research and experience has shown that growing the number of female angels will directly increase the level of investment in female entrepreneurs.”

– Jenny Tooth OBE, Executive Chair, UKBAA.

Our research shows that increasing the number of women angels will directly impact the number of women-led teams that access investment. Therefore, supporting women on the journey to access investment is just as important as supporting women seeking to invest. This means providing women with the capacity and desire to angel invest with resources, tools, and support as they step into the exciting space of angel investing.  

Looking back at UKBAA’s work

In 2021 the Women Angel Investment Taskforce launched, a collective of leading investors and industry leaders spanning the UK, that are committed to supporting women angel investors. Launched as part of the work of the Rose Review Board, the Taskforce works to connect and build an equitable and accessible place for early-stage investment for women entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Meet the Taskforce:

  • Jenny Tooth OBE, UKBAA & Co-Chair Women Angel Investment Taskforce
  • Deepali Nangia, Speedinvest and Alma Angels
  • Helen Oldham, NorthInvest and Fund Her North
  • Debbie Wosskow OBE, Allbright
  • Shanika Amarasekara MBE, British Business Bank
  • Rhian Elston, Development Bank of Wales
  • Lynne Cadenhead, Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Mint Ventures
  • Mary McKenna MBE, Angel Investor, Awaken Hub Northern Ireland
  • Jennifer Tankard, UK Finance
  • Stephen Pegge, UK Finance
  • Yvonne Greeves, NatWest and Co-Chair Women Angel Investment Task force
  • Gurpreet Manku, BVCA
  • Cate Poulson, BGF

Sprung out of the Taskforce, was the Women Backing Women campaign which launched in 2022. This flagship campaign was set up to inspire, educate and support women across the UK to become business angels and early-stage investors. The campaign, led by our Executive Chair, Jenny Tooth OBE and Yvonne Greeves, Director of Women in Business at NatWest Group, seeks to nourish and grow the female angel ecosystem in the UK and create a sustainable place for early-stage investment for everyone.

In September 2022 in collaboration with NatWest and Beauhurst, we released our Women Angel Insights: The impact of female angels on the economy report. In our research we found that 14% of angels are women and that the total value of equity deals with female angel participation between 2012 and 2021 was £2.34bn.

The Women Backing Women campaign collaborates with angel investor groups and key ecosystem players already working on the ground across the UK, including in Wales, Scotland and the North of England, who know their regional and national landscape better than anyone else.

What initiatives have been helping women founders and angels? 

2019 saw the publication of The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship aka The Rose Review. It served to highlight the challenges and difficulties that women entrepreneurs face in terms of access to finance and exposed the gender gap in investment.

At that time, only 1% of venture capital funding went to all-female teams and it was clear that steps had to be taken to address the imbalance. The Investing in Women Code was launched following the report, making a commitment to support the advancement of women entrepreneurs in the U.K. by improving their access to the tools, resources and finance they need to achieve their goals. 

In 2022 more new businesses led by women were founded than ever before, despite the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Over the course of the year over 150,000 new all-women led companies were founded, more than twice as many as were founded in 2018. 

At the end of last month, the Rose Review released a progress update which called for even more support for women founders in the UK. The report highlighted a number of encouraging progress milestones such as: 

  • Rose Review partners provided more than 800,000 opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
  • The Investing in Women Code saw a 41% rise of signatories, up from 134 to 190.
  • Women Backing Women, via the Women Angel Investment Taskforce, engaged thousands of prospective women angels across the UK to unlock new sources of early-stage funding.
  • British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans facilitated over 40,000 loans to UK women-led businesses.

Spotlighting Leading Women Angels 

As we drive forward with our commitment to increase the number of women angels in the UK, we understand the importance of championing those women who are doing incredible things in the ecosystem already. Through the Women Backing Women campaign, we’ve highlighted a number of leading women angels who are doing exceptional work and are at the forefront of driving change. You can find out more about each of them by clicking on their names below:

What is UKBAA doing next? 

While progress is definitely being made, now is the time to redouble support for women entrepreneurs to ensure that they are able to access the funding and tools they need to succeed. Throughout 2023 UKBAA will redouble its efforts following a very successful 2022 that saw the needle moving for women founders and angels. As momentum continues to build, we hope that many more women will join our Women Backing Women campaign and become a part of the movement.

Useful links 

Investing in Women Code

The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship

The Rose Review Progress Update 2023

Women Backing Women

Women Angel Insights Report


By UKBAA 08 Mar 2023