Bank partners with female angel investor network

Jordan Dargue, Helen Oldham and Sophie Dale-Black

The British Business Bank has announced a new partnership with Lifted Ventures, a female-led angel investor network striving to reduce disparity and improve accessibility in early-stage investment supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

Founded by Helen Oldham and Jordan Dargue, Lifted Ventures exists to make early-stage investment outside of London and the South-East more equitable for founders by increasing the flow of early-stage capital to female founders, and promoting the business benefits of backing women.

Oldham and Dargue, previously the leaders and founders of NorthInvest and Fund Her North, lead on the narrative that female-led businesses generate twice as much revenue per pound invested, despite receiving half the capital.

Research from the bank’s small business equity tracker found that 75% of venture capital goes to the Golden Triangle, the London, Oxford and Cambridge technology and innovation cluster, with 14% going to female-led, or co-led teams and only 1.7% going to founders from a Black, Asian and Other Ethnic Minority background. The research also found that 0.24% goes to Black founders and as little as 0.02% goes to Black female founders.

Lifted Ventures is aiming to bridge this gap by connecting entrepreneurs with angel investors, who will act as mentors and support minority female founders when seeking early-stage investment. With ambitious plans, Lifted Ventures will work with the British Business Bank to grow the network as well as launch a number of pathways of support for diverse female founders seeking investment. Growth plans also include expanding their team and building strategic partnerships to support education programmes for both founders and angel investors.

The Lifted Ventures network launches formally on 29 February with an event in Leeds.

Jordan Dargue, co-founder of Lifted Ventures, said: “As northern businesswomen, we know all too well the challenges female founders face outside of the Golden Triangle. Therefore, we’ve built and led a number of initiatives to try and address this imbalance, utilising angel investor networks.

“Lifted Ventures is our latest joint initiative, connecting entrepreneurs with investors, with the latter supporting diverse female founders in their journey to securing early-stage investment. We want to create an inclusive ecosystem that drives co-investment more widely, whilst working to build strategic partnerships and work with other female angel groups across the UK. We are passionate about making the north of England the investment capital of the UK for female founders.

“We have developed a world-class education programme to help build our angel investment capacity and we will use this to build a formal platform for education that will be rolled out at least twice yearly helping to build further angel investment capacity and to help angels make better informed investment decisions.

“There are several factors impacting the disparity faced by the founders in our network, and this is something that the Bank has also worked hard to highlight and overcome. We’re grateful to the Bank for their support in our mission to support a diverse range of founders and look forward to getting to work.”

Dr Sophie Dale-Black, director of UK Network – Midlands and North of England at the British Business Bank, said: “Helen and Jordan have already done some brilliant work to bring investment to the North through their projects, NorthInvest and Fund Her North, and we’re delighted to support their work in expanding to the Midlands.

“Angel investors play a crucial part in businesses securing early-stage investment, but diverse female founders often miss out due to funding disparities. Lifted Ventures will play a pivotal role in educating and supporting underrepresented groups. At the Bank we’ve long been committed to closing disparities in access to investment, and Lifted Ventures seamlessly aligns with this mission. We look forward to working with Helen and Jordan to make finance more accessible.”