Iterating For Better: Just nine per cent of funding for UK start-ups goes to women-run businesses

Starting a new business is risky, challenging and often pretty frightening for those involved. The numbers crunched by difference sources vary slightly, but the Office of National Statistics claims that only 42 per cent of micro businesses (employing fewer than ten people), 45 per cent of small businesses (employing between 11 and 50 people), and 51 per cent of medium-sized businesses (employing between 50 and 249 people) make it to their fifth birthday.

And if you’re a woman embarking on a new business venture, there are many more obstacles that are very female-specific.

There are the usual challenges that women in business face – whether employer or employee – including the struggle to be taken seriously, balancing work and family life, a lack of women role models, ‘owning your accomplishments’ and more.

Discrimination is also a very real issue. According to The Unilever Foundry, a platform for nurturing start-ups:
• Only 17 per cent of start-ups are founded by women
• 39 per cent of female founders frequently encountered sexism while running their start-up
• 42 per cent of women think gender discrimination will stay the same as they scale up

The statistics regarding funding are shocking, too. According to the Entrepreneurs Network, just nine per cent of funding for UK start-ups goes to women-run businesses in the UK annually. The Network, along with Beauhurst, also revealed that men are a staggering 86 per cent more likely to be funded by venture capital – and 56 per cent more likely to secure angel investment than women.

It’s depressing reading – and makes the success of the female business leaders in games even more impressive. We garnered some additional thoughts…

Marie-Claire Isaaman

CEO, Women In Games

“The biggest barrier for women is that the world of venture capital funding is a male-dominated culture. Networks are mostly impenetrable for women with few female partners involved in the funding processes. It’s a circular problem, that urgently needs breaking.

“Cassia Curran has launched Wings, a venture capital fund to support games by diverse teams, starting with games made by women and gender minority developers. More initiatives like this, training for women on fund raising and encouragement for women to turn their ideas into businesses will begin to activate change. Entrepreneurship was one of the core themes of the Women in Games European Conference last month.”

Helen Garlick

General manager, The Koyo Store

“Having spent ten years as a global buyer for numerous major retailers, moving into the world of gaming was alien to me. However, over the last 18 months I have found the community engaging and fascinating. As a woman in a male-dominated environment this has enabled me to settle, learn and acquire the skills required to handle the challenges in this industry. Strength and determination are my major assets but these rarely come into play as the industry is generally welcoming. It is my commercial head and objective view that deliver a successful strategy and I am loving the direction of my new career.

“Having said that, I recognise that women in the games industry are hugely under-represented and female business leaders of even more so. The latter may well be down to a lack of confidence by women who may feel they’re ‘not good enough’ and fear failure. That’s why initiatives like G Into Gaming and WIGJ are invaluable in supporting women in the industry, and helping them to achieve their goals.”

Putting The G Into Gaming is a pro bono initiative founded by and in association with recruitment specialist Amiqus. To find out more email or contact

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

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