While businesses continue to search for ways to adapt to the ‘new normal’, Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC) is offering support to Midlands-based start-ups and scale-ups.

As well as running its Startup Sprint programme, which equips 10 entrepreneurs each cohort with resources, skills and advice to build their businesses, BEC has also moved to increase support for under-represented groups by offering a number of female founders a free spot on the scheme.

The Female Founder Scholarships have been debuted following stats from The Alison Rose Review revealing that only one in three businesses are established by women. The review also found that women are less likely to scale a business and less likely to receive equity funding than male counterparts - an area that BEC was keen to redress. 

Not only did the BEC team create fully funded spaces on its programme, it also looked at ways to further nurture the female talent it found. Therefore, in addition to the provision already available on the Startup Sprint scheme, the five scholars also receive specialist support and mentoring from hand-selected female mentors who have core knowledge about the barriers faced by female founders. 

BEC - which has been running since 2018 - hopes that this new initiative will provide a greater chance for women across the region to grow their businesses, as well as begin to close the gender gap in terms of funding for female-led companies.

Commenting on the launch of the Female Founders Scholarships, CEO of Birmingham Enterprise Community, Daniel Evans, said: “In a time where it's so important for us to support new businesses offering huge promise, we really are thrilled that we're able to offer five emerging female entrepreneurs the chance to gain key skills that will enable them to build a solid foundation for their new businesses. 

“The current market is already a difficult one to navigate for even the most established businesses. However, when you combine this with the built-in barriers already facing female founders, it can feel like an impossible task for many. That’s why BEC has pledged its full and ongoing support to this new Female Founders Scholarship scheme, which we hope will uncover and promote tomorrow’s talent today.”

The first five Female Founders Scholars have already enrolled on the scheme. Among them is Dina Bahrami - the founder of Nutri Beauties, a company that develops plant-based edible supplements for young adults - and Langa Bird, who founded Ten Streets, a sustainable-footwear brand that sells a range of nude court shoes specifically to suit diverse skin tones.

The latest intake of entrepreneurs for the Startup Sprint programme is now underway, and is open for anyone to apply regardless of gender. The BEC team is also searching for its next three Female Founders Scholars. To find out more, visit www.birminghamenterprisecommunity.co.uk