Wunderman Thompson has launched an initiative to support women and non-binary business owners.
Dubbed Fund Femme, it is a global database aimed at tackling gender inequality in the economy, and uses the strapline "Our economy is not equal. It's tilted towards the people who built it."
The global platform allows consumers to discover, and shop from, women and non-binary business owners across beauty, fashion, food, homewares, technology, health and wellness, travel, fitness, arts and culture, media and charities. Users can filter searches based on category, location or through tags that businesses have added to identify themselves.
Despite making up 50% of the population and controlling or influencing the majority of consumer spend – 85% in the US in 2019, according to Forbes – women represent only 33% of business owners, Wunderman Thompson says. Since the pandemic, women-owned start-ups now receive 27% less funding.
The same research showed women were a third more likely to work or own a company in a sector that was shut due to Covid regulations last year. With the investment gap widening, small to medium-sized businesses owned by women have become even more vulnerable.
A core part of the platform’s mission is to celebrate and promote founders, tell their stories and establish support networks for business owners via an editorial hub on the website and @FundFemme on Instagram.
The aim is to create the world’s largest database of businesses owned by women and non-binary people. Entrepreneurs all over the world are invited to sign up and take part at www.fundfemme.com. Businesses joining can be of any size, all that is asked is that the entrepreneurs share Fund Femme’s principles – rooted in equality, ethics, honesty, passion and consideration.
Oriel Irvine Wells, co-founder of Fund Femme and copywriter at Wunderman Thompson UK, said: “Our economy does not represent us, and that needs to change. By giving businesses owned by women and non-binary people a platform, we hope to make people more aware of the many amazing founders out there who are often overlooked.
"By thinking more about who we support when we spend our money and changing our shopping habits to reflect this, we can create genuine, long-lasting change and bring our economy back into balance."
Rebecca Dallimore, founder and owner of skincare brand Scintilla, added: “Following my passion for sustainability and skincare to start my own business was one of the scariest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
"Being a female founder of a small business comes with its own challenges but equally feels like a community. Being a part of directories like Fund Femme not only helps promote our businesses but gives us a valuable network of connections that can be a huge source of support and inspiration."
Pip Hulbert, Wunderman Thompson's UK chief executive, pointed out that a mere "3% of venture capitalist funding currently goes to women-owned businesses, despite the fact they deliver higher revenue on average".
She continued: "That’s an imbalance that needs to change. We know the reasons why, I could reel off stats all day about the benefits of a balanced, representative economy.
"My hope is that Fund Femme, an initiative born from a group of smart, ambitious and passionate women, can be a part of that change, providing a platform for underrepresented businesses to flourish. I’d urge everyone to think about the businesses you know that can join the movement, and how you use your spending power moving forward. Every pound plays a role in shifting the scale."