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‘Actions are the Most Potent form of Advocacy’: F5 Collective CEO Tracey Warren

It’s evident that the gender funding gap remains a prevalent issue. Our Theory of Change report revealed that when seeking funding, men were often questioned about their business development (67%), while women were more commonly asked about strategies to prevent failure (66%). Additionally, The State of Australian Startup Funding report for 2023 indicated that only 18% of total capital was invested in startups with at least one woman founder.

At F5 Collective, fostering connections is a cornerstone of its mission for driving change. Tracey mentioned that we are deeply committed to mentoring women and providing them with opportunities to expand their networks, gain knowledge, and foster personal growth. In our Theory of Change, we delineate how our pillars contribute to effecting change. Under our “connect” pillar, we prioritize mentoring women and facilitating networking opportunities to support their development.

Throughout the past year, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring over 60 women founders. While the evidence remains anecdotal, a discernible pattern has emerged: mentorship plays a pivotal role in levelling the playing field for women entrepreneurs. By empowering women founders and amplifying the voices of under-represented individuals, we not only advance individual ambitions but also propel the entire APAC region toward a future rich with untapped potential.

Why is the emphasis on mentorship and community so vital? Consider the insights from a study on mentorship: 30% of women rated mentor relationships as extremely important to their careers, compared to 23% of men. Additionally, minority groups placed even greater value on mentoring, with 32% finding it extremely important. This isn’t mere coincidence—it highlights the barriers faced by these groups, barriers that mentorship can help break down by accelerating founder development and startup progression.

The narrative is all too familiar—women in business have long navigated an environment that questions their capabilities more than it celebrates their potential. Reports underscore a significant confidence gap; one study revealed that while two-thirds of men believe they’re capable of starting a business, less than half of women with similar qualifications share this belief. Mentorship can play a pivotal role in bridging this gap. By showcasing possibilities, offering support, and expanding networks, mentors serve not just as guides but as mirrors reflecting the often-unseen capabilities of women entrepreneurs.

Mentorship goes beyond the individual level—it encompasses the concept of giving back once you’ve attained success. In many traditionally male-dominated industries, a ‘boys’ club’ culture has prevailed, emphasizing succession planning and mentorship. It’s time to cultivate a new, inclusive culture where success begets more success, and the journey to the summit becomes less solitary and more communal.

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