Diversity in entrepreneurship is a huge topic, and one we at Tabono HQ are hugely supportive of. Recently, The UK VC and Female Founders Report by the British Business Bank confirmed that in 2017, 89% of venture capital invested went to all-male teams. This is something that clearly needs to change.
We know too, and from first hand experience, how hard it is to be a female entrepreneur. We have to balance meetings with the accountant with the school Easter Bonnet Parade. To fit in play dates with client meetings, and find time for our own self-care. Then there’s the house. And remembering birthdays, family events and keeping the fridge stocked.
This isn’t to say anything negative about our partners or how hard they work at all. Instead, it’s purely an observation that tasks like these often fall to women.
So this was our starting point when we set up We Are Tabono. We wanted to support women who had chosen to become entrepreneurs.
What about men?
Research showed us that there is a huge amount of support for female entrepreneurship. There are some fantastic initiatives out there, like the support provided by NatWest and Digital Mums. One of our Founders, Anna, is herself a graduate of the latter.
Love them or hate them, specific terms have even been coined. Like ‘mumpreneur’. Or ‘shepreneur’. Personally, we are not fans of either of these, but we can understand why people could be.
Our view is that by using these terms, we are automatically excluding men. And as a result, we are continuing to promote division, rather than creating balance, and encouraging gender diversity.
How do we encourage gender diversity in entrepreneurship?
Before we launched, Chloe and I happened to be guests on a local radio show, and conversation turned to this topic. We also met one of our mentors – Mike Bourton – on the very same show.
It was Mike’s words that really made us think about how we as a society should answer this question. It really is wonderful that there are so many initiatives to support female entrepreneurs. We are huge supporters of all of them, and indeed have benefited directly from a number.
But we realised that we wanted to do something different. Something that didn’t segregate men and women.
The Tabono Philosophy
The Tabono programme is different in that we offer a truly holistic approach to entrepreneurship. But we realised that the content we cover is not just applicable for women. Men can benefit from our course aswell. So after discussing it with Mike, we decided not to segregate men and women. Our programme is open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, academic background or experience.
More importantly, we take a cohort-based approach to our teaching. Participants study together for the duration of the course. We encourage people to co-work. To learn from each other. This creates a real support network and a feeling of accountability.
And that’s the key. Men and women are different, and there are situations where history and circumstance may mean that men appear to have an advantage. But by learning from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and from each other’s successes and failures, we could achieve so much more. Together.
So there it is. The Tabono philosophy. Bringing men and women together to learn from each other, and in doing so, to encourage gender diversity in entrepreneurship. We appreciate that this is not the only solution, but it’s an important start.