Virgin StartUp commits to 50/50 gender pledge

PREFERENCE - Linda Grant & Andy Fishburn, Virgin StartUp

Virgin StartUp has announced its commitment to become the first business funder to pledge 50/50 gender investment equality for Start Up loans by the end of 2020.

The gender pledge, driven by newly appointed Chairwoman, Linda Grant and recently promoted Managing Director, Andy Fishburn, will help thousands more women to start their own businesses and to thrive.

The gender pledge is about more than just funding – Virgin StartUp is proactively addressing the barriers faced by women starting up their own businesses with a new programme of women-led initiatives. To encourage more women to start up businesses and thrive, the organisation is designing an entrepreneurial model for equal gender-based funding with expert business advice, guidance and mentoring.

Recent findings state there are twice as many men who are entrepreneurs as women and closing the gender gap could generate £250 billion to the UK’s economy. During the course of engaging with an increasing number of female entrepreneurs, Virgin StartUp will work to remove the most common barriers to starting their own business.

Childcare tops the list of barriers currently faced by women in business, so the entrepreneurial hub is announcing new online courses to offer remote access to masterclasses to help upskill founders. The new online courses will help provide all parent entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to build better businesses. Virgin StartUp is also open to partnerships with organisations in the start-up ecosystem who can add further support to these women founders and richness to the process.

Speaking about the pledge, Linda Grant, Chairwoman of Virgin StartUp, said, “The barriers have been well documented.”

“It’s now time to make a promise that will deliver a positive change for women entrepreneurs and the British economy as a whole.”

“We are committed to delivering on our 50/50 gender pledge and have worked with a number of external advisors to introduce a raft of women-focused initiatives that will address the barriers women face when starting up.”

“I am really excited to be part of an organisation that truly wants to make a positive difference.”

Andy Fishburn, new Managing Director of Virgin StartUp added, “The Virgin Group has always had entrepreneurship at its core and we are proud to address the recent conversations around the barriers facing women entrepreneurs and deliver workable solutions with the creation of our 50/50 gender pledge.”

“We strongly encourage other investors to do the same.”

Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit, entrepreneurial hub of the Virgin Group. Virgin StartUp distributes government-backed Start Up loans ranging from £500-£25,000 to entrepreneurs launching or growing a business that’s under two years old in England and Scotland. Every entrepreneur who receives a Start Up loan through Virgin StartUp is matched with their own mentor and receives a programme of post-funding support.

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Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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