Code First Girls raises £4.5m led by Active Partners to accelerate opportunities for women to enter the tech industry

07/09/2022

Code First Girls, an education company that supports women into coding education and employment for free, today announces that it has raised £4.5m in Series A funding led by Active Partners. Additional participants in the oversubscribed round include prolific female angels such as Michelle Kennedy (former director of Bumble and CEO and Founder of Peanut), Claire Davenport (CEO of notonthehighstreet.com), and Clare Johnston (CEO and Founder of the UpGroup). The fresh funds will be used to accelerate the company’s growth and close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry. It will also enable the company to reach an ambitious new target of providing one million opportunities for women to learn how to code and secure a job in tech over the next five years.

There is a stark gender gap in the tech industry, with women accounting for just 21% of the UK’s tech industry and black women making up less than 3%. With the UK’s tech job market projected to be worth £30bn by 2025 – six times larger than it is now – a diverse talent pipeline is vital to unlocking this value potential. However, analysis by Code First Girls of employment and higher education data finds there will be just one qualified woman for every 115 roles by 2025.

Code First Girls is on a mission to close the tech gender gap by providing free coding education for women and supporting them into employment. It partners with some of the world’s leading companies and public bodies to place women in tech jobs after they complete the training and has supported over 80,000 women to learn to code through its programmes to date. Through its programmes and partnerships, it provides women with the skills, confidence and community to enter and thrive in the tech industry. Current partners include NatWest, Goldman Sachs, BT, Deloitte and Skyscanner.

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 ‘CFG degree’ 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 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 more than 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.”

Matthew Clifford, Co-Founder of Code First Girls, said: “There is a desperate need for more diversity in tech and we founded Code First Girls to deliver it. Following the success and astounding growth we’ve had, investors are clearly sitting up and taking notice. Their faith in our model will support us to significantly scale up the company and bring our work to more tech businesses.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Code First Girls, and we have ambitious plans to reach even more women, providing one million more opportunities for education and employment, turbocharging the tech industry and boosting the economy.”

Alice Bentinck, Co-Founder of Code First Girls, said: Code First Girls is special because it’s practical. Our DNA is all about doing – providing young women with the practical skills, confidence, and community to break into the tech world and progress through it.

“It’s a privilege to continue being a bridge between organisations who are keen to improve diversity and women who want to be an active part of the tech sector. Anna’s work scaling the business has created the next era of Code First Girls, and I’m excited for its future building up more female leaders of tomorrow.”

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.”

Read more in Sifted and The Times.

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