14th April 2021
The pandemic has presented an opportunity to press the restart button on many aspects of the tech sector and build an environment that embraces and encourages diversity and inclusion. For Dr Amber Ghaddar, more needs to be done to enable women to excel within the sector.
Amber starts by explaining how we simply do not have enough women within the tech sector. “If you look at the UK, only 12.5% of the developer pool are female. We’re already starting with a very low number of women in tech meaning the number of females at board level is very small. We need to work hard to change this, and one way to do this is by encouraging young girls to go into STEM subjects. I’m currently working with BIBA and we are providing females with the chance to learn coding and provide them with opportunities to intern at tech companies.”
Access to funding also remains a major challenge for women in tech, preventing many from excelling within the tech sector, with Amber saying: “Money is everything, and it is problematic if you cannot get the funding to launch your business. You can be as smart as you want but without funding, it is going to be a struggle.
“This is why I have started the 200 Billion Club– a social initiative aiming to finance women-led startups in the UK and return £200bn to the post-Brexit economy. This was inspired by Alison Rose, the CEO of Natwest, who wrote a report spotlighting how the UK would be able to add £200 billion to the UK economy if female led startups were finance as par as best in class countries.”
Amber goes on to explain, “The 200 Billion Club is an accelerator for female-led businesses and we focus on areas like deal flow and pitching. We have partnered with VCs that are interested in investing in female entrepreneurs. This is an important step with not enough funding currently going to female founders”.
It’s also integral to highlight the biases within the VC ecosystem. “There is bias against women within the pitching process, especially at the initial stages of the deal flow. A recent report from the Harvard Business Review highlights this by explaining how female entrepreneurs are usually asked prevention questions versus the promotion questions that men get asked. However, women can answer prevention questions in promotive ways so they can access the same amount of capital as men, despite facing more difficult questioning. The 200 Billion Club focuses partly on this, by offering more training to women in different aspects of the pitching process so they can highlight the strength of their businesses”.
Amber also explores what female entrepreneurs need to do to succeed in the fintech sector. “ It’s important to sound and look the part – it is all about the way you are presenting yourself and your business.”
Covid-19 has also shifted working practices, particularly for women. “Everyone has been forced to adapt, especially people working from home with their children. Far more women have had to quit their jobs because of Covid-19 as they could not fit in teaching the kids at home whilst juggling their job. It’s sad to see and we need to break the chain.”
The conversation ended with Amber citing how the Level39 community is important for female entrepreneurs to network. “The Level39 community provides a fantastic network from meeting other startups to getting advice from the Level39 management team. It’s also good for meeting investors, which is particularly important for female-led companies hoping to grow”.