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Beyond HERizons programme launches to support UK female founders

Beyond HERizons, a new initiative from London & Partners’ Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK) programme designed to specifically tackle the funding gap that exists in the investment landscape, has launched its inaugural cohort of female founders. 

Beyond HERizons, a new initiative from London & Partners’ Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK) programme designed to specifically tackle the funding gap that exists in the investment landscape, has launched its inaugural cohort of female founders. 

The 12-month business support programme will provide 15 female entrepreneurs with the skillset, network and confidence to scale their businesses and secure investment. Female founders joining the programme have been selected following a competitive application process and are actively looking to secure Series A investment within the next year. 
There is a stark funding gap between men and women in the investment landscape, with recent data from and London & Partners revealing all-female founded businesses received just GBP22 million, less than 0.5 per cent, of the total GBP5.3 billion VC invested into London tech firms between January and April this year. Research from Extend Ventures also shows Black and Multi-Ethnic entrepreneurs are at an even greater disadvantage, with 0.02 per cent of total VC invested from 2009-2019 going to Black female founders. 
Female founders face particular barriers at the later stage of VC funding, with data showing that in 2020 77 per cent of VC funding rounds into London-based all-female teams were at seed stage or earlier, while 19 per cent were Series A and only two rounds were at Series B or later funding stage. The new Beyond HERizons initiative aims to specifically target the funding gap in the UK investment landscape that exists for female founders, in particular at Series A stage and beyond, and to build an inclusive and diverse network passionate about balancing gender inequalities in the investment ecosystem. 
The entrepreneurs taking part in Beyond HERizons span a range of tech sectors from digital health and the circular economy to robotics and edtech. They include Letizia Gionfrida, Co-Founder & CEO of Arthronica, a digital-health diagnostic platform, Rahel Tesfai, Founder & CEO of FroHub, an Afro hair and beauty community and Mikela Druckman, Co-founder and CEO of Greyparrot, an AI-powered computer vision software increasing transparency and automation in recycling.
Other women joining the programme are Rene Perkins, Founder & CEO of which helps organisations to grow their inclusion using its cutting edge technology, Jill Hodges, Founder & CEO of Fire Tech, the UK’s leading provider of tech education for 8-17 year olds and Kike Oniwinde, Founder & CEO of BYP Network, connecting Black professionals with each other, careers, events, mentors and Black businesses. 
Janet Coyle, Managing Director Business Growth at London & Partners, says: “We are excited to have some of UK’s most inspirational female founders joining the first cohort of our Beyond HERizons programme today. London and the UK are home to thousands of innovative female founders, but they so often struggle to scale due to the current funding gap in the investment ecosystem. Beyond HERizons will bring together a community of diverse female founders to access impactful, practical support and investor networking opportunities and engage London’s extensive network of investors committed to increasing accessibility to funding in the UK.” 
Sherry Coutu CBE, Founder & Chairman at SVC2UK, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, says: “We know that more diverse and inclusive businesses generate greater economic growth and benefit to society and women-led firms are shown to perform better over time. Yet female entrepreneurs continue to face significant barriers accessing funding. Beyond HERizons will work with the extensive network of tech investors who are dedicated to addressing this funding gap in the investment landscape to drive progress and contribute to undoing the current investment gender bias. I am thrilled to see so many innovative female founders joining the programme’s first cohort.” 
The programme will offer a balance of education, support and networking opportunities, ensuring founders receive tangible and sustainable support from experts including the SVC2UK Beyond HERizons partners; Mastercard, HSBC, Wilson Sonsini, Ada Ventures, Merian Ventures and FieldHouse Associates.
As part of the programme, the cohort will be introduced to relevant investors from across the UK and European ecosystems where they will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and products. The founders will also participate in a trade mission to Silicon Valley in early 2022 where they will meet and spend time with North American investors and build their international networks.
Kike Oniwinde, Founder & CEO at BYP Network, says: “I am thrilled to join an incredible group of female founders for the new Beyond HERizons programme. I have been part of the London & Partners and SVC2UK networks for three years now and have benefited hugely from their support through two accelerator programmes, events and female founder trade missions. BYP Network has so much potential to continue to break down barriers, bringing about change for the Black community. I look forward to connecting with a strong global network of investors and founders and gaining support to secure funding to help fulfil our global growth ambitions for BYP Network.”
Deirdre McGettrick, Founder & CEO at, says: “I’m really looking forward to meeting a network of like-minded female founders through Beyond HERizons and sharing learnings, wisdoms and experiences. has a unique proposition, offering an online furniture marketplace for consumers all in one place and through joining the programme we hope to succeed in securing our next funding round, allowing us to continue to grow and reach new customers.”

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