● Code First Girls receives Series A funding to provide one million free opportunities for women to learn to code and join the industry over the next five years

● The investment will provide £1 billion of economic opportunity for women in the technology industry

Code First Girlsthe fast-growing UK woman-founded business that helps women with coding education and employment for free has today (September 7) announced a £4.5m Series A funding round from female angel investors and a leading investment company to accelerate its growth companies and close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.

Funding from consumer-focused investment firm Active Partners and prolific female angels, including former Bumble CEO and Peanut CEO and founder, CEO notonthehighstreet.comformer VP of Monzo and co-founder and COO of Stealth, CEO and founder of UpGroup and COO of MoneyBox, will enable the company to achieve an ambitious new goal of providing one million opportunities for women to learn to code and secure tech jobs over the next five years.

Active Partners, a leading investor, boasts an impressive portfolio of well-known brands including Leon, Rapha, Soho House and Honest Burgers. The funding round also attracted the support of CEOs and COOs of leading companies such as Bloom & Wild.

There is a stark gender gap in the tech industry, with women making up just 21% of the UK tech industry and black women making up less than 3%. The UK tech job market is predicted to be worth £30 billion by 2025 – six times larger than it is now – and unlocking that value requires a diverse workforce. However, analysis of employment and higher education data by Code First Girls shows that by 2025 there will be one qualified woman for every 115 jobs.

As part of its ambition to provide a million opportunities for women, as well as free online courses at all stages of the pipeline, Code First Girls plans to “CFGdegree” more than 26,000 women and place them in technical roles over the next five years. Given the average starting salary in tech, this represents over £1 billion of economic opportunity for women entering the tech industry.

Founded by Alice Bentinck MBE and Matthew Clifford MBE, who are also co-founders of startup accelerator Entrepreneur First, Code First Girls has been transitioning from a social enterprise to a rapidly growing profit in recent years. Anna led this repositioning and now has the status of founder.

Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, said:

“Our mission at Code First Girls is to close the severe, long-term gender gap in the tech industry by empowering women to learn to code and get a job in tech for free. We’re growing incredibly fast, and businesses, government and universities across the country are getting on board with us because they recognize that 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, connecting talent with jobs and recently growing our revenue and user base by 10x. 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 players in the tech industry who see our innovative model as a solution to the technology gender gap. We will use this investment to provide one million opportunities for women to learn to code and enter the industry for free, creating a huge £1 billion economic opportunity for women and boosting the whole sector.”

Tom Profumo, an investor at Active Partners, said:

“Traditional education providers are failing to address the significant shortage of technical talent in today’s industry, as well as the huge shortage of diverse talent. Code First Girls offers a solution to this problem. By providing free coding courses to all women and supporting them in employment at some of the world’s largest companies, Code First Girls promotes social mobility, increasing the pool of diverse tech talent and addressing the technical skills gap.

We have been very impressed with what Anna and the team have achieved so far and how the company has changed the lives of so many women. We look forward to joining Code First Girls in this exciting next phase of growth and supporting the team in its mission to close the gender gap in the tech industry.”

Claire Davenport, CEO of the company notonthehighstreet.comsaid:

“I believe passionately that we need to give women more pathways into the tech industry.

“There is still a fundamental inequality in terms of encouraging girls to go into technology, access to training and information, and the number of female role models in the sector. All of these work together to cut women off from future careers in technology and the many opportunities such careers can bring.

“I believe that Code First Girls provides a way to balance this inequality, while also promoting social mobility and giving women from different backgrounds the chance to have brilliant careers. By opening up pathways into the tech industry for women, whatever stage they’re at in life, we’re not only supporting women in award-winning roles, we’re providing a huge injection of talent for the industry itself.”

Michelle Kennedy, CEO and Founder of Peanut, said:

“Investing in Code First Girls was one of the easiest investments I’ve made to date. Anna is an extremely impressive CEO with a clear vision of not only training more women to secure positions in engineering and technology in general, but just as importantly, creating a funnel to meet employers’ demand for world-class talent. Another example of how bringing women into tech isn’t just about equality, it’s just great business.”

Rona Rutten, co-founder and COO of the stealth startup (formerly VP at Monzo), said:

“The tech industry is full of opportunity, but too many women still face barriers to entry. I’m excited to support Code First Girls as they plan to expand and give more women pathways into this exciting industry. As a female founder in tech, I am passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in the sector and empowering the female entrepreneurs of the future.”

Rosalyn Blair CBE, founder of Alexander Mann Solutions, said:

“I’m investing in Code First Girls to close the gap where female founders and leaders in tech still vastly outnumber their male counterparts. This company plays a unique role in supporting women in technology at all stages of development, and its plans to reach even more women and provide them with educational and employment opportunities are very exciting.

“The fact that so many leading female angel investors joined this fundraising round shows how strongly we all feel the need to support the next generation of female tech talent.”

Karen Kerrigan, Chief Operating Officer of Moneybox, said:

“As the COO of a fast-growing technology company, I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the challenges of hiring tech talent over the past 10 years. While Moneybox has partnered with CFG this year, it’s become clear that their programs are empowering women and non-binary people to have fulfilling careers and helping businesses access the wealth that diverse talent provides. I am very happy that I now have the opportunity to support this business on a personal level as an investor.”

Claire Johnston, CEO and founder of Up Group, said:

“Supporting a fantastic female founder whose mission is to help more women write code and pursue careers in tech was an easy decision. Anna is building a fantastic business and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”

Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Code First Girls, said:

Code First Girls is special because it’s hands-on. Our DNA is all about giving young women the practical skills, confidence and community to break into and advance in the world of technology.

“It is a privilege to continue to be a bridge between organizations committed to improving diversity and women who want to be an active part of the technology sector.

“Anna’s work to grow the business has created the next era of Code First Girls, and I am very excited about her future, which will lead to the growth of the female leaders of tomorrow.”

Matthew Clifford, co-founder of Code First Girls, said:

“There is a desperate need for more diversity in technology, and we founded Code First Girls to deliver it. After the success and the amazing growth we’ve had, investors are clearly sitting up and taking notice. Their belief in our model will help us grow the company significantly and bring our work to more technology companies.

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

It ends

Notes for editors

About Code First Girls

Code First Girls has already helped 80,000 women learn to code and, working with companies around the world, promotes employment, diversity and social mobility, and transforms local economies and communities.

Code First Girls is now the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, having taught five times more women to code than the entire UK undergraduate system. Existing partners include NatWest, Goldman Sachs, Ford, BT, Deloitte and Skyscanner.

About active partners

Active Partners is a consumer-focused investment firm that supports and builds the iconic brands of tomorrow by partnering with visionary founders at all stages of growth. Founded in 2004, Active Partners has invested in world-class businesses such as Honest Burgers, LEON, Secret Cinema, Soho House, Finisterre, The Fold, Northern Monk and Rapha. For more information visit www.active.partners.

Angel investors include:

Michelle Kennedy, former director of Bumble and CEO and founder of Peanut

Rona Rutten, co-founder and COO at Stealth and former VP at Monzo

Claire Johnston, founder of UpGroup

Claire Davenport, CEO of notonthehighstreet

Rosalyn Blair, CBE, Founder and Chair of AMS

Karen Kerrigan, Chief Operating Officer, MoneyBox

Philip David Burton, Chief Operating Officer, Bloom & Wild

Tech workforce statistics are from ONS (2019), embedded report 2021: Women in tech statistics show industry still has a long way to go, and STATUS OF TALENT IN TECHNOLOGY 2021 D&I REPORT.

By 2025, there will be 3 million new roles in software, artificial intelligence/machine learning, data analytics and cyber. By 2025, there will be only 26,000 new qualified female graduates – 0.87%. (Microsoft data science using LinkedIn data, UCAS data)

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Code First Girls secures £4.5 million Series A investment led by Active Partners

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