Code First Girls, a female-founded, fast-growing UK business that supports women into coding education and employment for free, announced a £4.5m Series A fundraise.
The funds are from female angel investors and a leading investment firm to accelerate the company’s growth and close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.
The funding, from consumer-focused investment firm Active Partners and prolific female angels including a former director of Bumble and CEO and Founder of Peanut, CEO of notonthehighstreet.com, former VP of Monzo and Co-Founder and COO of Stealth, CEO and Founder of the UpGroup, and COO of MoneyBox, will enable the company to reach an ambitious new target of providing one million opportunities to women to learn how to code and secure a job in tech over the next five years.
Active Partners, the lead investor, boasts an impressive portfolio of well-known brands including Leon, Rapha, Soho House, and Honest Burgers. The funding round has also attracted support from CEOs and COOs of leading companies like Bloom & Wild.
There is a stark gender gap in the tech industry, with women making up just 21% of the UK’s tech industry and black women making up less than 3%. The UK’s tech job market is projected to be worth £30bn by 2025 – six times larger than it is now – and a diverse talent pipeline will need to be put in place in order to unlock this value. However, analysis by Code First Girls of employment and higher education data finds there will be one qualified woman for every 115 roles by 2025.
As part of its ambition to provide one million opportunities to women, alongside free online courses at every stage of the pipeline, Code First Girls plans to put over 26,000 women through the ‘CFGdegree’ and place them into tech roles over the next five years. Given an average starting salary in tech, this equates to over £1 billion in economic opportunities for women entering into the tech industry.
Founded by Alice Bentinck MBE and Matthew Clifford MBE, who also co-founded startup accelerator Entrepreneur First, Code First Girls has been transitioning in recent years from a social enterprise to a rapidly accelerating profit-making business. Anna has driven this repositioning, and now has Founder status.
Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, said: “At Code First Girls, our mission is to close the serious, long-term gender gap in the tech industry by giving women the opportunity to learn to code and get jobs in tech, at no cost to them. We’re growing at an incredibly fast pace, with businesses, government and universities across the country getting on board because they recognise we’ve found a model that works.
“We’re proud of both our social and commercial impact, having already taught 80,000 women to code for free, linking talent with jobs, and having recently 10xed our revenue and user base. Our next goal is to become the world’s first EdTech unicorn dedicated to women.
“This funding round is a vote of confidence from major figures in the tech industry, who see our pioneering model as a solution to the tech gender gap. We’ll use this investment to provide one million opportunities for women to learn to code for free and enter the industry, driving a huge £1 billion in economic opportunities for women and a boost for the entire sector.”
Tom Profumo, Investor at Active Partners, said: “Traditional education providers are failing to address the significant tech talent shortages across the industry today, as well as the huge lack of diverse talent. Code First Girls offers the solution to this problem. By providing free coding courses for all women and supporting them into employment at some of the world’s biggest companies, Code First Girls is facilitating social mobility, boosting the diverse tech talent pool and addressing the tech skills gap.
We have been very impressed by what Anna and the team have achieved so far and the company’s transformative impact on so many women’s lives. We look forward to joining Code First Girls on this exciting next phase of growth and supporting the team to achieve its mission to close the gender gap in the tech industry.”
Claire Davenport, CEO of notonthehighstreet.com, said: “I passionately believe we need to give women more routes into the tech industry.
“There is still a fundamental inequality in terms of the encouragement girls receive to get into tech, access to learning and information, and the number of female role models in the sector. All of that works together to cut women off from future careers in tech and the many opportunities such careers can bring.
“I believe Code First Girls is providing a way of rebalancing that inequality, as well as boosting social mobility and giving women from every background the chance to get into a brilliant career. By opening up routes into the tech industry for women, whatever stage they are at in life, we are not only supporting women into rewarding roles but providing a huge injection of talent for the industry itself.”