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Bridging the Gap: Online education platform to address funding shortfall for women

Research covering the last four years of Australian start-up funding has found women-founded businesses received only 4 per cent of all cheques and banked significantly less than men-founded businesses. 

This is despite the fact that women own one-third of the APEC region’s small and medium-sized businesses. Over the last few years, there has been a steady shift toward online learning platforms, which have recently become the new “norm” for education.

With the aim to address this, the Angel investor network Scale Investors has announced the launch of EducatEd, its new online education platform.

What is EducatEd?

EducatEd offers online courses tailored to both female founders and investors, with the goal of assisting more female entrepreneurs in gaining access to capital. 

Among the programmes are:

  • FoundEd is a free five-day introductory webinar education series for female entrepreneurs. 
  • EmpowerEd is a 10-week programme for female founders that combines online learning, small group sessions, mentorship, and individualised support. This course is designed specifically to decode the world of capital raising. 
  • InvestEd is a self-paced online Angel Investing 101 programme that focuses on new early-stage investors and explores the significant risks and rewards of angel investing in startups.

Dynamic Business spoke with Samar McHeileh, Co-CEO of Scale Investors, to understand the big picture and the reasons for gender biases in the business world.

What is the primary reason for the disparity in funding access between men and women? 

Samar: “There are two main reasons why the gender funding disparity exists. The first is access to networks. Women do not have access to the networks men do, which is a systemic issue. The second is unconscious bias. 

“Decision-makers at VCs are not diverse; The Harvard Business Review reported that only 12 per cent of decision-makers at VC firms are women. These two main reasons have led to a lack of understanding of how the startup ecosystem works; therefore, education is one key way to help close the investment gender gap.”

One of the primary reasons that women do not receive funding, in my opinion, is due to gender bias. How is Scale Investors addressing this? 

Samar: “Gender bias is absolutely a key reason women do not receive funding. Scale Investors address this in three ways. Firstly, our investment mandate is that we only invest in women-led or co-led startups. The women leading those businesses must have equal or majority equity share and decision-making power. Secondly, the Scale Investors pre-selection screening team are all women. 

‘All of our investors (women and men) believe and understand that investing in diverse teams delivers better outcomes, with circa 70 per cent of our investors being women. Last but certainly not least, Education. Scale Investors was founded on the premise of educating more women to become investors. 

“The recent rollout of founder education is equally paramount, we believe it is never too early to learn about what investors are looking for, and we have opened up access to this knowledge and community. 

“This will lead to more women setting up their business for success from day one and gaining access to the networks and community they need to raise capital successfully should they need to.”

What distinguishes the specially curated programme for females from a gender-neutral programme?

Samar: “It is all about creating a safe and accessible space to learn. Women learning alongside other women enables this to occur. Bringing in experts, the best investors across the ecosystem and women who have raised capital in the past and delivering to a women-only cohort is what makes our program unique. 

“Success will be when we do not need to specially curate programmes for women because gender-lens investing becomes the norm rather than the exception.”  

The platform has been designed and curated with the help of some of the most influential investors and founders across the country, including founders turned funders Sarah Hamiton, Noga Edelstein. Jodie Imam and founding partners at VCs from Folklore, the Foundry, Startmate, SBE Australia, Artesian, Squarepeg and Sakalta.

Scale Investors is looking for female founders to participate in its first EmpowerEd programme, which will begin in April. 

The 10-week course costs AU $1300, but scholarships are available for women from minority, marginalised historically oppressed groups, or those experiencing financial hardship.

The Women’s Leadership and Development Program received an additional $18.2 million in the recently announced budget. This includes a $9 million investment from 2023-24 to 2025-26 to expand the successful Future Female Entrepreneurs programme, which aims to develop and grow women’s core entrepreneurial skills. 

For more information on EducatEd and to sign up, please check out the website here

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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