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1% isn’t enough. We all have a lot of work ahead of us in building an ecosystem that fosters innovation and equal opportunity for female founders, but it’s a cause that’s close to our hearts at Seedrs. 

So, in support of the #overbeingunderfunded campaign by We Are Radikl, we took to the streets of London this past week, with billboards going live across the city. 

Keep reading to hear the full story behind We Are Radikl, from co-founders Sarah King and Claire Dunn.

When did We Are Radikl start and what was the ambition? 

‘we are radikl’ was founded in 2018, with the ambition to reimagine entrepreneurship and investment in the UK. We know it’s a bold ambition but with 18 years entrepreneurial experience between us we wanted to put all of that learning to good use and build something which will create meaningful change and therefore the ambition had to be courageous. We focus on 3 key areas – firstly to increase the number of women who successfully start, sustain and scale their businesses. Secondly, to increase the number of women investors in the UK. Thirdly, to challenge the invisible barriers that exist within the existing ecosystem.  

The untapped economic potential of women founders stands at a whopping £250billion lost economic revenue to the UK. Not only that, but women’s businesses have been proven to be better for people, planet, purpose AND profit. We want to see all this and more realised, as this will mean a better, more equitable world for all.

What were you doing prior to founding the business?

Both Claire and I were entrepreneurs before co-founding this movement. I was the founder of a Design Thinking agency and Claire was a Director of a Triathlon Training company and Vegan Food business so we both had a few years of entrepreneurial experience under our belts! We also both have corporate backgrounds and we’ve been able to pour all of these experiences into the melting pot of building this business

Tell us a bit about the #overbeingunderfunded campaign – what gave you the idea to push for diversity in the entrepreneurship space? 

We closed our first investment round earlier this year using the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.  We closed our round in 9 weeks and hit our SEIS deadline with only 48 hours to spare.  We’re really proud of that achievement but our overriding reflection – particularly on the back of the pandemic and us both homeschooling – was ‘why is the deadline set at 2 years from trading date.  

We know that access to and awareness of funding is the number one barrier women face globally when it comes to starting and scaling their businesses.  In the UK only 1% of funding goes to women founders; only 0.24% to black women founders.  These figures are appalling but it’s not enough to just say “it’s not good enough”.  

By looking at research papers, understanding the impact of the pandemic on women business owners, our own experience and the experience of the entrepreneurs we work with we created the #overbeingunderfunded campaign – a step towards addressing the inequalities that exist within the investment landscape.  

We’re asking the Treasury to make 3 key changes:

1) extend the SEIS deadline from 2 years to 3 years 2) introduce gender, race and ethnicity reporting to SEIS for both entrepreneurs and investors and 3) to redirect Peer Network funding towards earlier stage training and support.

What are some of the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs and how do you think we can go about improving this? 

When it comes to entrepreneurship and investment we’ve heard it all!  That women have a different risk appetite and therefore don’t want investment through to “well we just can’t find the women who are building investable businesses” and “women want to build ‘lifestyle’ businesses”.

The existing ecosystem has been designed by a certain group of people for a certain set of needs.  That system self-perpetuates and if you don’t look, sound or act like it – well, that’s how we end up with only 1% of investment being made in women founded businesses.  The system, the culture and behaviours excludes a huge proportion of entrepreneurs.  And the knock-on impact of this for entrepreneurs who don’t fit the existing mould is that we can end up ‘counting ourselves out’ – of not believing that we can build the type of business that could attract funding which is of course not true.  In fact – as an investor you’re more likely to get a higher return for every £1 invested in a female-founded business so the system, the narrative is entirely broken!

In terms of how we can improve it … we’re firm believers that rather than battling what already exists we simply get on with building something new.  The existing system will very quickly become outdated and will underperform in comparison.  Those in the existing ecosystem will either recognise the inequality and genuinely and authentically be a part of creating the change or they won’t.  

How does We Are Radikl push for women-led businesses to grow and succeed – what kind of support and mentorship do you offer?

We’ve built our offer on four design principles – radikl know-how, inspiration, connection and kindness.  This means that whether you’re a member of our community, taking part in our start-up incubator or you’re part of the #overbeingunderfunded movement we’ll always focus us how what we do delivers these four things.

We provide a pathway through the early messy years of entrepreneurship.  We believe in the power of community which is why we’ve built a UK-wide online community on the Mighty Networks platform.  We also support the radikl community with a series of incubators and accelerator programmes, so whether you’re just starting your business – taking it from an idea to a start-up or you’re seeking your first investment round we have the know-how, inspiration, connection and yes kindness, you’ll need to build the business you dare to dream about.

What are some of the success stories you’ve seen among women-led businesses so far, and how can we look to replicate that success for even more founders?

One of the issues in the world of entrepreneurship is that it’s the glossy ‘at the end’ success stories that get focused on – not the rollercoaster ride of getting there which requires grittiness, resilience, courageous steps and consistent problem solving.  We need to focus more here because it’s navigating all of this that leads to ‘success’.

We see success stories every day in the Community and it’s important these are celebrated.  Whether it’s landing your first customer or increasing your pricing, through to confirming your lead investor or coming out of the other side of the pandemic with your business and your sanity intact – these are all huge achievements.  

A huge thank you to Clear Channel UK for standing with us in the fight for better access to funding opportunities for UK women entrepreneurs and investors.

Like, share and comment. Sign. Share. Support. We’re #overbeingunderfunded.