STARTUP SPRINT LAUNCHES SCHEME TO ACCELERATE FEMALE FOUNDERS’ SUCCESS

While businesses continue to search for ways to adapt to the ‘new normal’, social enterprise Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC) is rallying to support the budding careers of start-ups and scale-ups in the Midlands. Running its Startup Sprint programme, which equips 10 entrepreneurs each cohort with resources, skills, and advice to build their business, BEC has further extended support for underrepresented groups, by offering a number of female founders a free spot on the scheme.

The Female Founder Scholarships have been debuted, following stats from The Alison Rose Review revealing that only one in three businesses are established by women. Furthermore, it was found that women are less likely to scale a business and are less likely to receive equity funding – an already difficult task – than male counterparts, which is an area that BEC was keen to redress. 

Not only did the BEC team create fully-funded spaces on its programme, but it looked at ways to further nurture the female talent it found. Therefore, in addition to the provision already available on the Startup Sprint scheme, the five scholars also receive specialist support and mentoring from hand selected female mentors who have core knowledge in the barriers faced by female founders. 

BEC – which has been running since 2018 – hopes that this new initiative will provide a greater chance for women across the region to grow their businesses, as well as begin to close the gender gap in recognition for funding in female-led companies.

Commenting on the launch of the Female Founders Scholarships, CEO of Birmingham Enterprise Community, Daniel Evans, said: 

“In a time where it is so important for us to support new businesses offering huge promise, we really are thrilled that we are able to offer five emerging female entrepreneurs the chance to gain key skills that will enable them to build a solid foundation for their new businesses.

“The current market is already a difficult one to navigate for even the most established businesses; however, when you combine this with the built-in barriers already facing female founders, it can feel like an impossible task for many. That’s why BEC has pledged its full and ongoing support to this new Female Founders Scholarship scheme, which we hope will uncover and promote tomorrow’s talent today.”

The first five Female Founders Scholars have already enrolled on the scheme, and include the likes of: Dina Bahrami, the founder of Nutri Beauties, a company that develops plant-based edible supplements for young adults; and Langa Bird, who founded Ten Streets, a sustainable footwear brand that sells a range of nude court shoes specifically to suit diverse skin tones.

Speaking of the support she received, Dina commented:

“I am honoured to have been selected for the female founder scholarship on the BEC Startup Sprint. It is so amazing to grow as a business alongside so many other talented and driven female entrepreneurs. It has motivated and inspired our team to strive for excellence and always take the chance to build each other up. The mentoring sessions were so insightful and have helped us tackle the important questions we have as a start-up during this unprecedented time.” 

BEC’s Startup Sprint programme was created as a support network for new entrepreneurs looking for new ways to find their feet. Those enrolled on the scheme work their way through four essential topics, including understanding customers and markets and creating MVPs, as well as joining weekly group mentoring sessions, one-to-one meetings and a virtual platform that gives them access to an array of essential materials to enhance their knowledge. 

The latest intake of entrepreneurs for the Startup Sprint programme is now underway, and is open for anyone to apply regardless of gender. Of course, the BEC team is searching for its next three Female Founders Scholars to enrol. To find out more, visit www.birminghamenterprisecommunity.co.uk

Becky Weaver