The virtual programme breaking down barriers for female founders
A new one-off virtual programme from Barclays is offering 30 trailblazing female founders the chance to prepare for their next big challenge – and giving them the tools to tear down the ‘paper-ceiling’.
“Founders have been hugely affected by COVID-19 – but underrepresented founders even more so. We know there’s an urgency in being able to deliver that help.”
Sonal Lakhani, Global Head of Programmes and Strategic Initiatives at Barclays Innovation Office, is describing the motivation behind the new Female Founders First programme by Barclays and global accelerator, Techstars.
Access to networks, business advice and capital are three key barriers to the success of women-led startups – and Barclays research indicates that the challenges facing female entrepreneurs have only been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. Lakhani hopes the new initiative will help tackle this problem, supporting female founders from a range of industries to develop the skills and platform they need to scale their businesses.
We’re going to be providing networking opportunities so that these female founders can create a really close-knit cohort and help each other through all the barriers and obstacles, good times and bad times ahead of them
Global Head of Programmes and Strategic Initiatives at Barclays Innovation Office
Between 9 November and 18 December, the one-off virtual programme, is offering 30 startup founders from around the world the network, mentoring and tools needed to scale. Targeted at businesses about to raise its next round of funding or enter its next phase of growth, Female Founders First will see CEOs in sectors from healthcare to software take part in workshops and roundtables, and access dedicated business products. And, with the help of online platforms like Zoom and Slack, it will all be from the safety of the founders’ own homes.
Tearing down the ‘paper-ceiling’
One key area the initiative targets is the ‘paper-ceiling’ – the fact that men are more likely to receive media coverage compared to women.
The programme aims to improve the visibility of innovative women-led companies, with training dedicated to helping founders build a public profile. “We know that on every step of the journey female founders often have fewer resources to tell their stories to customers and potential funders,” says Jennifer Jordan, Managing Director of the programme. “Female Founders First will help share the participants’ stories with the world – when they need it the most – just as they are ready to scale.”
Female Founders First will help share the participants’ stories with the world – when they need it the most – just as they are ready to scale
Female Founders First by Barclays and Techstars
“I think the stories that these founders tell matter,” says Lakhani. “We want to help them cut through a lot of the noise that’s out there and propel their businesses forward by giving them a platform to talk about why they founded the company and why their company deserves the attention, the investment and the business development opportunities that we can give them.”
And, she adds, the programme is a crucial way for like-minded founders to connect with each other during the pandemic.
“We’re going to be providing networking opportunities so that these female founders can create a really close-knit cohort and speak to each other and help each other through all the barriers and obstacles, good times and bad times ahead of them.”