Barclays women innovators initiative expands to UK

The Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis is expanding to Britain and the rest of Europe.

The Lab is a US-based venture fund and studio which aims to invest in women entrepreneurs across the financial services industry.

Established in 2019, the Lab combines Barclays’ and Anthemis’ early-stage investment expertise and wide FinTech network to identify women founders at the earliest stage of their journey and match them with capital and support to build and scale a company.

Three of the first companies to launch out of the Lab include Swaypay, a social commerce start-up that reroutes billions of ad dollars from platforms like Facebook into shoppers' pockets by democratising influencer perks for all, Nivelo, which is enabling faster ACH payments with a new API security layer, and First Boulevard, a digitally native neobank focused on improving the financial livelihood of Black America.

“Since inception of the Lab, we have met with hundreds of companies across the FinTech ecosystem with more than 40 per cent being BIPOC founders, and supported a number of female founders in building venture-scalable businesses,” said Katie Palenscar, investor & global head of venture studio at Anthemis.

“This plainly disproves the existence of a pipeline problem as the reason behind female founders’ negligible share of venture funding, and instead points to the vast untapped entrepreneurial potential that needs to be nurtured, networked and funded.”

Data from Pitchbook showed that venture funding for female founders hit a three-year low in the third quarter of 2020 as the pandemic had a disproportionately negative effect on women and minority-founded businesses.

In Europe, companies founded solely by women in 2020 garnered just 2.1 per cent of the total capital invested in venture-backed start-ups.

“By working alongside the Barclays Innovation team and Anthemis, the Barclays Principal Investments team is able to provide strategic support, which may include capital for early-stage female led FinTechs, and also unlock identified barriers of growth for these founders so they can scale at pace,” said Kathryn McLeland, group treasurer at Barclays.

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