Investing in women-led businesses

BGF has invested over £400m into women-led businesses so far. Find out how we’re supporting female founders and investors in the industry, and hear from members of our team, in this deep-dive piece.

7 March 2023

BGF has invested over £400 million into women-led businesses so far, including nursery chain Kids Planet, female technology business Elvie, and care service provider The Good Care Group.

We were set up to create a portfolio of well-run, diverse companies and we pursue that mission in every sense. For four years running, BGF has been named the UK’s most active institutional investor in female-founded scaleups.

We’ve invested into 57 women-led businesses already and we strive to increase that figure further in the coming years. But we’re not stopping at our portfolio. In 2022, women made up 57% of new investment hires at BGF and nearly a third of the non-executive directors and chairs that we introduced to portfolio company boards.

Behind the numbers, we’re working to create an environment where the challenges for women within the investment and entrepreneurial communities are better understood. We believe that active engagement through open dialogue, both between and within genders, is critical to achieving meaningful progress. Read on to find out more about our commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

Daina Spedding, BGF investor said: “We have to start building the ecosystem we want to be a part of, and make sure all sections of the funding ecosystem play their part. It’s our responsibility to ensure that female founders have the tools to believe in themselves, to access funding and ultimately to scale.”

Female founder events

Our ‘Scaling up and standing out’ series of events, which we host across the UK at our regional offices bring together women entrepreneurs to share their experiences and build their network. We also run events specifically for female advisers to meet BGF’s investment team and share ideas. These are just some of the many initiatives we’re delivering to help build a stronger, more connected entrepreneurial ecosystem for women.


Supporting female founder initiatives across the UK & Ireland

Together with Coutts, NatWest’s Private Banking arm, we launched the UK Enterprise Fund (UKEF) to bring additional funding and support to entrepreneurs across the UK. The fund was set up to identify and address equity gaps across the whole of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, with specific initiatives for women-led businesses.

BGF also backs the Investing in Women Code (IWC) which was set up to address barriers preventing female entrepreneurs from accessing capital in the same number as men. Together, signatories commit to breaking down these barriers. The IWC is an initiative for providers of finance, such as banks, investment companies and venture capital firms. It was established off the back of the Rose Review, a report published by Alison Rose (CEO of NatWest Group) who oversaw an independent review into female entrepreneurship.

The IWC recently published its 2022 annual report which BGF is pleased to support.


Women-led businesses in our portfolio

Female technology (femtech) business Elvie, led by founder Tania Boler, is at the forefront of creating world-class technology for women, such as the world’s first silent, wearable breast pump. In 2021, BGF was the lead investor in Elvie’s £58 million funding round.

Want to learn more about the female business leaders in our portfolio? Watch our interview with Kids Planet’s chief executive, Clare Roberts, about how she took her growing nursery care group to the next level with BGF’s support.

Meanwhile, our interview with Arecor CEO Sarah Howell explores her experience of leading a fast-growing biotech business and its recent £20 million IPO. And Claire Barker, Equilaw’s CEO, talks about the success of the legal services firm, and her journey so far as a business founder.

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