Women in the UK outperform men in seed crowdfunding

Jul 17, 2017

New report shows that while more men use seed crowdfunding more than women, women are more successful in reaching their finance goals than men

  • Female-led crowdfunding campaigns in the UK were 29% more successful at reaching their funding target than male-led campaigns

  • While men typically seek higher funding targets, female-led projects achieve a greater average pledge amount: on average each individual backer contributes $78 to women and $69 to men (a difference of 13%)

  • Men use seed crowdfunding substantially more than women and raise significantly more finance than female-led campaigns; 85% of campaigns in the UK raising over $1 million were male-led campaigns

The joint report from PwC and The Crowdfunding Centre, Women Unbound: Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential, explores the experience of women in achieving finance raising success through seed crowdfunding compared with more traditional finance raising routes.

The report findings, which are based on two full years of seed crowdfunding data (2015-16) tracked by The Crowdfunding Centre, include the results of over 19,066 seed crowdfunding campaigns from some of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the UK.

The report finds that while men use seed crowdfunding more than women, women are more successful at crowdfunding than men. Twenty percent of male-led campaigns in the UK reach their finance target, compared with 26% of female-led campaigns. Overall campaigns led by women in the UK were 29% more successful at reaching their funding target than those led by men.

The UK is  second only to the US in terms of the largest volumes of campaigns, but women in the UK did slightly better than their US counterparts in reaching their funding targets (26% compared to 24% in US).  In both countries, 20% of male-led campaigns reached their targets.

Crowdfunding is a disruptive innovation which has provided new routes to funding for individuals, startups and growth businesses. It enables them to engage and interact directly with the market and with thousands of backers, supporters, customers and potential partners like never before. Seed crowdfunding is the use of ‘rewards based’ crowdfunding platforms to fund the creation, launch or development of new businesses, products and services where backers pay upfront for a product, service or project.

Barry E James, co-founder and CEO of The Crowdfunding Centre, says:

“Who could have expected that when the middle-men are removed from the equation, and women and men entrepreneurs get equal and direct access to the market, it would turn out that women would, immediately and decisively, outperform the men, across the board? Shining a new light on the endemic imbalance and the causes that have long fueled limited access to finance for female entrepreneurs via traditional financing routes. That only half as many women currently embark on a crowdfunding campaign is undoubtedly a reflection of low expectations stemming from the same roots. So, in that light, it's time to readjust not just our expectation and perceptions but our attitudes, institutions, behaviours - and the way we make decisions."

Female crowdfunding success is in stark contrast to established funding mechanisms for business startups and growth in which women-led businesses continue to face barriers to accessing finance.

Jon Terry, Global Financial Services HR Consulting leader, says:

"The findings of our Women Unbound report pose a strong challenge to existing entrepreneurial and business norms by seriously questioning whether there are deep-rooted biases that are preventing greater access to funding by female entrepreneurs. We would encourage traditional funding decision makers to look hard at these findings and question whether there is a level playing field for female entrepreneurs to access funding.

“It is extremely positive to see that the growth and global reach of seed crowdfunding presents several major opportunities, each with the potential for major social and economic impact. Including the understanding and acceptance that seed crowdfunding is now a well-established environment."

There is however room for even greater progress.  Significantly more men use seed crowdfunding than women and as result men raise substantially more finance via this channel. Men are also more ambitious in establishing higher funding goals than their female counterparts and we see them dominate in the highest funded campaigns by sector. The report highlights that 13 campaigns in the UK raised over $1 million but of these, only two (15%) were led by women. The biggest UK campaign in the UK was led by a man and raised over $5 million.

Suzi Woolfson. UK private business leader at PwC, commented:

“The UK is one of the most successful countries for seed crowdfunding in the world, but currently significantly more men than women are using this channel. Becoming more engaged in crowdfunding and ambitious with finance raising goals offers a huge opportunity for female entrepreneurs. We hope the success of female crowdfunders highlighted in this report will inspire and give more women the confidence to explore crowdfunding.”​

This report aims to create visibility of the potential barriers that female-led businesses and entrepreneurs appear to have long faced in accessing finance; highlighting that opportunities for women entrepreneurs do not seem to have been equal. But thanks to crowdfunding, entrepreneurs can now access the market directly – and this makes a huge difference.

Above all, this crowdfunding data shines a more visible light on both the challenges and opportunities to which we must respond. Eradicating any potential barriers that seem to be more prevalent in traditional finance routes provides opportunities that will benefit women and men, business and society. The report outlines actions that governments, funders, business advisers, educators, entrepreneurs, women and men can take to seize these opportunities and eradicate any such barriers.

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Notes

  1. To find out more and download Women unbound: Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential, visit www.pwc.com/womenunbound. The report is based on two full years (2015-16) of seed crowdfunding campaign data tracked by The Crowdfunding Centre from nine of the world’s largest crowdfunding platforms.

  2. To explore the data by country, region or sector, visit www.pwc.com/womenunbound.

  3. PwC is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and has a range of programmes in place to advance progress on the issue. These include Aspire to Lead: The Women’s Leadership Series, a global forum on women and leadership for students around the world. PwC has also partnered with the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which aims to mobilise one billion men and boys as advocates and agents of change in ending the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.

  4. To read PwC research on women in the workplace, take a look at The female millennial: A new era of talent; Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow’s female leaders; Millennials at work; Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose; and Winning the fight for female talent: How to gain the diversity edge through inclusive recruitment.

  5. Find out more about The Crowdfunding Centre’s business funding accelerator for women at www.BizFundingAccelerator.com/BeBoldForChange and learn more about to use seed crowdfunding as a tool of choice to secure positive cashflow and market validation at http://routesto.info/toolsforwomen

About the Crowdfunding Centre

The Crowdfunding Centre is crowdfunding's global observatory, founded by Barry James and his team in 2013 which now provides the world's largest repository of data on crowdfunds harnessed to provide data and evidence based reports and tools for business, government, entrepreneurs, investors and academia. Find out more and get reports and data for your sector, country or city by visiting TheCrowdfundingCentre.com

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