Hatch’s mission is clear: to build a better world through entrepreneurship, but this statement does require some interrogating as it rests on the premises that something is wrong with the world that needs to be made better, and that entrepreneurship is somehow the solution. As we approach our ten year anniversary we have naturally become more reflective within the Hatch team, looking back at why the charity was founded in the first place, all that has been achieved, and all that is still to be done. This includes looking more closely at our mission and evaluating how relevant it is in the current societal context, and considering how we as an entrepreneurship charity can make the biggest impact.
Even a small sample of recent news stories tells us that we are very much still living in an unequal world. From women being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis and not being taken seriously in the workplace, to one of our very own programme graduates facing Islamophobic abuse in the face of what should have been a joyful and positive story, we see time and time again that inequality is still rife in society and change is needed. We know the power that entrepreneurship has to bring positive change to individuals and their communities, and are proud to have been part of the journey of so many changemakers across the UK through our programmes and support.
With the mounting cases of injustice across the news cycle, and the increasing difficulties being faced by the underrepresented communities we support, we will be working to become a stronger voice in the sector, championing the positive impact of entrepreneurship, elevating the voices of founders, and making sure that our blueprint for a better world reaches those with the power to bring about real, lasting change.
An Unequal Landscape
At Hatch we are a champion of positivity and empowerment but we realise there are times when injustice must be highlighted, and it is important to acknowledge the landscape if we are going to work towards changing it. Today is a fitting time to discuss this as it coincides with both Living Wage Week and Equal Pay Day, the day in the year where women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap.
Just to take a few recent examples of inequality highlighted in the press, women are underrepresented in boardrooms, underrepresented in investment, overrepresented in primary caregivers, and often held back in professional development for presenting as ‘too emotional’. Similarly just this week there was ‘clear evidence’ found of discrimination against ethnic minority groups in terms of pay and career progression.
The entrepreneurship-specific data also reveals barriers and prejudices, with women starting their businesses with 53% less capital than men do: for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p.
The statistics are even worse for Black founders, with a report analysing data on 3,784 entrepreneurs who started companies between 2009 and 2019 revealing that just 38 Black entrepreneurs received venture capital funding.
Alongside their teams, they received just 0.24% of the total sum invested, and Black female founders just 0.02%.
We know that the Hatch formula is one that works, and we have been proud to see the impact that our support has had. Since 2013 we have ensured that opportunities are made available to those that need them, and that the power to transform lives with entrepreneurship is not limited to a select few in society.
Over 6,700 people across the UK have accessed our support programmes, and graduates overwhelmingly report that they feel better able to lead their organisation effectively, manage their wellbeing, access the funding they need, build the right connections, and embrace new challenges.
In the last year, 80% of those we supported identified as female or another marginalised gender, 71% were from an ethnic minority background, and 16% told us they were living with a disability.
It’s so important to us that we are able to foster an inclusive and diverse environment that celebrates the unique experiences all those in our community bring. One entrepreneur to benefit from Hatch’s support this year was Kim To, a neurodiverse founder keen to set up an inclusive and accessible coaching business to empower people with neurodiversity to thrive in a neurotypical world.
Kim had dropped out from other enterprise support programmes in the past, finding the culture too male-dominated and focused on commercial success rather than social impact.
She said, “I felt very demotivated from these programmes, but with Hatch, I honestly feel empowered. Entrepreneurship can be scary and lonely. Hatch provided me with the community and training needed for me to have the confidence to set up my coaching practice. It helped me feel less alone and helped me fill the gaps with knowledge or skills that I was lacking. It is the only supportive, female-focused and diverse entrepreneurship space that I have been a part of”.
A Stronger Voice
It’s empowering for all of us in the Hatch team to be part of such an inspiring movement that is bringing about very real change in the world. Getting to hear from and work with founders making big changes in their sectors reaffirms the huge power that entrepreneurship has to positively impact individuals and communities, and we are already looking forward to welcoming our new January cohorts to the Hatch community, and following them on their entrepreneurial journey.
Big things are coming in the new year across the programmes we are launching, the new calendar of events in the works, and the different ways partners and supporters will be able to engage with us. Alongside this we are also committing to becoming a stronger voice in the sector, using the expertise we have within the organisation, as well as the sheer power of numbers in our community, to speak up for entrepreneurship.
Members of our team recently had the privilege to attend an event in Parliament championing youth entrepreneurship, and it was incredible for our very own graduate Sophia to be given the platform to speak about her own experiences founding Violet Simon.
In attendance were members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, investors, policymakers and more, and it is so important that authentic, powerful stories of founders like Sophia reach these groups so they can recognise the challenges that currently exist in the sector, and the changes that are needed to address them.
We are excited to be shouting more loudly than ever about entrepreneurship, elevating the voices of our founders and reaching those who can make a difference.
So how do we foster change in an unequal world?
Firstly, we make sure that those with the solutions to the problems in their communities are well equipped to tackle them, with a supportive community of experts, mentors, and like-minded peers and a range of tailored enterprise-support opportunities that are accessible, practical, and led by the needs identified.
Secondly we make sure that all of the expertise and insight collected from this community of passionate, impact-focussed entrepreneurs is harnessed and shared with policymakers, journalists, and those with the power to make a difference. At Hatch we have almost a decade of experience providing practical support to underrepresented founders, and over the coming year our followers and supporters will notice us using this experience to shout more loudly about entrepreneurship and its role in building a better world.