An accelerator dedicated to supporting the entrepreneurial ambitions of 100 digital creative female freelancers in the North West is set to return in 2022.
FreelanceHER 100, developed by IN4 Group, is a fully funded 12-week business accelerator that aims to empower female freelancers to be strong leaders and create powerful enterprises.
With only 19% of women working in the UK tech sector and 5% of leadership positions in the industry held by women, there is a particular focus to support those who work with digital and technology products, services and ideas, as well as women from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Based at HOST – the Home of Skills & Technology – in MediaCity in Salford, FreelanceHER 100 offers a bespoke support programme of weekly workshops and peer group mentoring from female entrepreneurs, ‘brunch and learn’ sessions and talks from inspirational speakers.
It is working with specialist partners with unrivalled track records including NatWest, Northern Power Women and GC Angels.
Participants will benefit from expert mentoring and networking from Northern Power Women’s community of over 85,000 individuals, and NatWest will be delivering several business-building workshops to help founders upskill themselves alongside like-minded business owners.
A select number of businesses that are investor-ready by the end of the programme will also have the chance to pitch to GC Angels investors and its network.
Launched in November 2020, FreelanceHER 100 was aimed at supporting women who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and to help them succeed during challenging times – providing them with the skills, confidence and self-belief to pursue their ambitions as a freelancer or start-up business.
The programme was hugely successful in supporting 104 women with starting and growing their businesses, and it has also won the Women in Tech Excellence Award for diversity and inclusion initiative of the year.
Bella Copland, programme director for FreelanceHER 100, said: “Our mission is to continue building and supporting our diverse community of female founders with the skills to launch, innovate and grow their businesses.
“We have seen a clear demand from women to have access to a programme that goes beyond the practicalities of being a freelancer, giving them a safe space, flexibility and a community to benefit and innovate from.
“It is only through working collaboratively across public and private sectors that we can address the underlying gender inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, where there is a huge gap in support for women who have been made redundant or had career breaks because of increased childcare responsibilities.
“Creating more business and entrepreneurial opportunities for women, supporting them into leadership and closing the gender gap in the tech industry will help drive economic growth and prosperity in the North West.”
Heather Waters, regional ecosystem manager at NatWest in the North West, said: “It’s fantastic news that FreelanceHER 100 is returning to the region later this year to support even more female-led businesses in their development and growth.
“The Rose Review Into Female Entrepreneurship highlighted the barriers faced by women in business and gave recommendations on how we can better support female entrepreneurship. This included working in partnership with business support programmes like FreelanceHER.
“Greater Manchester and the North West have brilliant networks in place to support female entrepreneurs, and by working together we can have a greater impact across the region and support the wider economy as it recovers post-pandemic.”
Victoria Bond, CEO of Space HR, who took part in the first cohort said: “I have never experienced group mentoring before I was part of FreelanceHER 100.
“I couldn’t see how I’d get what I needed out of being part of a group, rather than just being one on one. I was totally wrong!
“Imagine if your talent programme wasn’t built around the competition to be the best but was built around a group of people collaborating to achieve more together. This fits my values much more closely.”
FreelanceHER 100 is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.
IN4 Group, the operator of HOST, is working with GC Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company to provide fully funded business support.
To apply, visit: www.freelanceher100.com/join