Innovation and changeCloud ComputingCloud support for UK women starting their own company

Cloud support for UK women starting their own company

The investment aims to offer cloud support to more than 1,000 women-led technology companies, so the women in the UK can start and scale their own business

Women in the UK will be provided with support to start and grow their companies. The cloud support will include artificial intelligence technology – mentorship, networking opportunities and other resources.

Microsoft has extended the female-focused Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Program (MCAP) to help UK women start their own company to an additional eight countries, including the UK.

Microsoft has teamed up with Women in Cloud, a community-led initiative that helps women grow their companies through cloud support, and IdeaGen to roll-out its six-month programme to the UK, France, Germany, Canada, India, Kenya, South Africa and the UAE. There will also be new initiatives in New York and Chicago in the US, joining those currently run in Seattle.

Those enrolled in the programme will be given access to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Providing inspiration and mentorship

Charlotte Yarkoni, Corporate Vice-President of Cloud and AI at Microsoft, said: “As a woman and a leader at Microsoft, I’m proud of our initiatives, many of which have been established and are supported by women leaders within our organisation. I am encouraged by our continued commitment to providing inspiration and mentorship for both women in tech and those just starting to develop interest in the industry.

“While there remains much to do, we at Microsoft believe that we will only be able to address our toughest technology challenges when we embrace diverse perspectives. To build this diversity, it’s critical to have a varied partner ecosystem and one that actively supports women entrepreneurs.”

The cloud support MCAP was launched in May 2019.

Help realise business goals through cloud support

MCAP is a 6-month programme to accelerate female-led tech organizations to bring their Cloud + AI innovations to be co-market and co-sell ready with Microsoft. Through cloud support, female entrepreneurs will learn to develop their business model, solution, source target  customers, get access to subject-matter experts & executives with an ultimate goal of creating economic growth and job opportunities that are aligned with the UN goals.

Up to 25 applicants will be selected to participate in the programme and will each be assigned a dedicated advisor to create access to potential customers, partners, and subject-matter experts to help them realise their business goals.

Through various partnerships, MCAP has so far helped 30 female-owned companies – such as StylyzeMeylahGenneve Health and Automaton – to grow.

The current state of play

This January, the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) launched its inaugural benchmarking report – the first of its kind to track gender diversity in technology roles across the UK.

The data, gathered from over 200 signatories representing over half a million employees, including a number of government departments, provided a snapshot of today’s tech industry and an insight into practical ways companies can improve it.

Across the charter signatories, women hold 26% of the technical roles. Looking at the workforce of signatories more broadly, women make up 34.9% of our signatories’ workforces compared to the wider digital tech workforce average of 19%.

When broken down into job roles, it is clear that there remains specific technology specialisms where women are less represented. User-centred design had the highest proportion of women (48%) and Engineer and Programmer had the lowest proportion (15%). There were no surprises here, as it is well known that the engineering sector specifically struggles to attract and retain women.

One-in-eight working women wants to start her own business, according to research from FreeAgent and OnePol, but the Government has found that just one-in-five small and medium-sized companies is run by a woman, despite estimates that boosting female entrepreneurship could add £250 billion to the economy. Currently, just nine per cent of the funding funnelled into UK start-ups goes to women-run businesses, the Entrepreneurs Network revealed.

In April this year, Microsoft introduced DigiGirlz Day, an event that aims to inspire more young girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. It falls under #MakeWhatsNext initiative.

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