The 2023 Investing in Women Code report highlights
The 2023 Investing in Women Code report shows the importance of data collection to establish the true picture of access to finance for women-led businesses. Some themes remain constant, such as the strong correlation between gender balanced investment teams and investment committees and the proportion of investment allocated to all-female founder teams. Other metrics have shown surprising fluctuation from year to year, such as the disparity in the amount of loan finance advanced to women-led and male-led businesses which has grown significantly.
Code gains traction: 61 new signatories added
There are now 204 signatories to the Code, up from 143 in March 2022. The list of signatories can be found on the British Business Bank website. The Code is led by the Department for Business and Trade and delivered with partner organisations: British Business Bank, British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, UK Business Angels Association, and UK Finance.
This year’s report shows persistent disparities: fewer women-led businesses and all-female founder teams sought funding compared to their male counterparts in both lending and equity finance markets. Action is needed to address this gender imbalance.
With the addition of the platform lender Funding Circle and six others during the year, the 23 lenders now signed up to the Code provide an extensive range of products and services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK alongside targeted initiatives to support women-led businesses.
Summary of findings
Women-led businesses continued to receive smaller amounts of loan finance. The gap widened in 2022, with the average (mean) amount approved in respect of women-led businesses standing at £174,000, which was 34% of the average of £507,000 approved for their male-led counterparts.
Reflecting the challenging economic climate, Angel group signatories recorded a significant decrease in the level of funding being requested by all-female teams compared to 2021. All-male teams also asked for lower levels of funding from Angels, while mixed gender teams sought almost twice the level of funding. Nevertheless, the data revealed an overall decrease in the level of Angel investment captured by female founders, including mixed gender teams, compared to the previous year.
The impact of having more women Angel investors on outcomes for women founders was also underlined. Angel groups with a higher proportion of female investors achieved a stronger deal flow of women founders and made a higher proportion of their total investment into all-female teams.
A higher percentage of VC deals made by Code signatories feature at least one female founder (35%) as compared to the wider market (27%). This is the third year in a row that signatories have outperformed the VC market. The number of deals made by VCs with all-female teams rose from 6% in 2021 to 9% in 2022 in the broader market, bringing it in line with the levels achieved by VC signatories which remained constant for the last year.
VC firms that have signed up to the Code represent a larger share of the market than ever before. The proportion of UK VC deals involving a signatory has risen from 24% in 2020 to 39% in 2022.
Female investors remain under-represented on investment committees. Signatories report an average of 32% female representation in their investment teams and 24% on their investment committees. The report found a relationship between more diverse investment committees and successful pitches from all-female teams, so this is a crucial area to address.
Signatories are taking action to close the gender finance divide
Signatories are implementing a range of measures to improve their support for women entrepreneurs, including connecting them with female-focused networks, recruiting from a more diverse pool of candidates, providing mentoring and training for female founders, and implementing diversity metrics and policies to achieve gender equity in the start-up ecosystem.
Despite some encouraging advancements in financing female entrepreneurship by Code signatories, the results reveal a sobering reality: women-led businesses and female founders continue to face alarming disparities in the funding they request and ultimately receive. These findings underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the ongoing financial obstacles that hinder their progress and potential.
The 2023 report is the third annual report of the Code. The first and second reports can be found Helpful resources and other initiatives IIWC - British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk).