Women unbound

Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential

PwC, in collaboration with The Crowdfunding Center, is pleased to release this Women unbound report based on two years of seed crowdfunding data from nine of the biggest crowdfunding platforms globally. Learn more about how seed crowdfunding is unleashing female entrepreneurial potential below and join the conversation at #WomenUnbound

Women are better at crowdfunding than men

Crowdfunding, a FinTech innovation, is a construct that has revolutionised finance raising, enabling budding and established entrepreneurs to get new business ventures to market across the globe. It has also identified a powerful gender dynamic: seed crowdfunding campaigns led by women consistently outperform those led by men.

This report finds that while men clearly use seed crowdfunding more than women, women are more successful at crowdfunding then men. Seventeen percent of male-led campaigns reach their finance target, compared with 22% of female-led campaigns. Overall campaigns led by women were 32% more successful at reaching their funding target than those led by men across a wide range of sectors, geography and cultures.

Female crowdfunding success is in stark contrast to established funding mechanisms for business startups and growth in which women-led businesses continue to face barriers to accessing finance.

In light of these findings we call on governments, funders, business advisors and businesses of all sizes to seize this opportunity to identify, quantify and remove the grey-suit-factor, which remains at the root of this historic inequality in female founders’ access to finance.



Explore the data: Click on the geography or sector for full results


Source: The Crowdfunding Centre, full year data 2015 & 2016
Note: Total pledge amount rounded up or down to the nearest 0.1 million
E7: China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey
ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thai Land, Vietnam
Other: Sectors included in other include life science, not for profit and social enterprise campaigns





What are the actions you can take?

The way forward

Crowdfunding is fundamentally about communication and about stories. It’s about nurturing relationships and persuading a crowd of people to come on a journey with you. That journey doesn’t end when your project is successfully crowdfunded: successful entrepreneurs maintain those relationships, and use their crowd to unlock growth, relationships, research, development and value in their businesses.

What the data in this report shows clearly is that opportunities for women entrepreneurs have not been equal, but thanks to crowdfunding, entrepreneurs can now access the market directly – and this makes a huge difference.

Endemic bias is a problem women entrepreneurs should no longer face. Eradicating these barriers provides opportunities that will benefit women and men, business, and society.We call on governments, funders, business advisors and businesses of all sizes to seize this opportunity to identify, quantify and remove the grey-suit-factor.

Actions for financial institutions, banks, and venture capital firms

  • Measure and audit, on at least an annual basis lending and funding patterns from a gender perspective to unearth potential systemic biases
  • Consciously adjust your perceptions of risk when it comes to investing in women entrepreneurs and businesspeople
  • Understand that experience of crowdfunding offers businesses a competitive advantage
  • Give businesses who have used crowdfunding credit for the market validation and customer understanding they have generated
  • Create more funds to invest in start-ups run by women
  • Train decision makers on unconscious bias and its implication on decision making and build awareness of female entrepreneurial success stories

Actions for Governments

  • Promote crowdfunding as a way for women-led initiatives to fundraise and increase visibility and platforms to connect willing investors with women-led initiatives

Actions for female entrepreneurs

  • Despite similar levels of education and experience, less than half of women feel confident they can start a business compared to two-thirds of men. Men show more positive perceptions about opportunities and their own capabilities, as well as lower fear of failure. Women should be inspired by the positive findings of this research to realise their potential and fuel their confidence and understand the opportunities that seed crowdfunding presents them
  • Be confident to use seed crowdfunding, as a tool of choice, to secure positive cashflow and market validation
  • Seek and participate in women-focused incubators, accelerators and platforms such as Allbright and The Crowdfunding Centre’s business funding accelerator for women;
  • Start or continue backing crowdfunded projects: some of the most crucial lessons about how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign and launch a thriving business come from being a supporter of crowdfunded projects

Actions for education and business support organisations

  • Add seed-crowdfunding, as well as the other forms, to their funding toolkit, alongside more traditional debt, equity and grant based options, by ensuring that all client facing advisors have a clear understanding of the models, the business scenario to which they apply and how they can also support more traditional forms of funding
  • Provide training to (aspiring) women entrepreneurs for them to improve their pitching skills, media engagement planning, and internet marketing
  • Embed crowdfunding within the curriculum of business support programmes and the academic curriculums of all entrepreneurship programmes

Actions for men and women

  • For those of you already supporting crowdfunding campaigns, be more gender aware as you consider the campaigns you’d like to fund, and feel empowered by the findings of this research to become a champion of female crowdfunders.
  • For those of you unfamiliar with the world of crowdfunding, explore the opportunities it presents you to become a mini-VC and, in particular, the opportunity for more women to champion growing and startup businesses by stepping into roles which were formerly exclusive to investors.

Contact us

Jon Terry

Global Financial Services, People and Organisation Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7212 4370

Manoj Kashyap

US Assurance FinTech Leader, PwC United States

Aoife Flood

Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme, PwC Ireland

Tel: + 353 1792 6459

Barry E James

CEO & Co-Founder, The Crowdfunding Center

Tel: +44 (0)844 8844943

Kay Klug

Co-Founder, The Crowdfunding Center

Tel: +44 (0)844 8844943

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