2021 was officially the year in which the world searched for new entrepreneurship opportunities. Among the many trends highlighted in Google’s year-end review, the search term ‘how to start a business?’ proved more popular than ‘how to get a job?’ over the past 12 months.
It’s a trend reflective of the pandemic start-up wave, as new entrepreneurs, spurred either by opportunity or necessity – or a combination of both – adapt to a global restructuring of the workplace.
Here in the UK, it’s estimated one in five adults have ambitions to start their own business in the near future, yet scant support and limited access to funding continue to be the most-cited barriers preventing a start-up from finding its feet. Or worse, failing to take off altogether. Because at the heart of it, a new business idea without capital is like a rocket without fuel.
Let’s be clear: founding a company is not for the faint of heart. Carving out your own space in the business world – online or otherwise – presents numerous challenges each and every day, which is all the more reason to advocate for a more conducive environment for entrepreneurs. To provide mentoring and financial support capable of opening doors and unlocking opportunities, particularly for female-fronted start-ups.
On a big-picture scale, there has been a gradual closure of the entrepreneurial gender gap over the past 20 years in the developed world, but the latest OCED findings underline a trend that is becoming all too clear: female business owners have been disproportionately impacted by Covid. A key reason underpinning this gender imbalance is the fact that women are over-represented within those sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as personal services, accommodation, and retail.
Action is needed, then. Which is why we’re so pleased to announce our Female Founders funding opportunity. A dedicated, female-focused fund is something we at Women in Business have long campaigned for – an accelerator for the next generation of innovative start-ups. The initiative, in partnership with TechStart Ventures, will seek to support female entrepreneurs with a grant and business mentoring support directed towards exploring the viability and commercial potential of their innovative business idea.
We want to empower female entrepreneurship here on our doorstep. To kindle a female enterprise ecosystem in Northern Ireland that has a positive ripple effect across society and the local economy for many more years to come.
Should the Female Founders Fund pique your interest, Women in Business is hosting a free-to-attend information session on 13th January, where competition specifics and application criteria will be outlined and explained in detail. Visit www.womeninbusinessni.com to reserve your seat.
Let’s take this exciting step together. And who knows, maybe 2022 will be the year when we see ‘how to expand my business?’ up there in Google’s search trends.