Code First Girls, a UK-based business that supports women into coding education and employment, has raised £4.5M in its Series A funding round.
The round was led by consumer-focused investment firm Active Partners and prolific female angel investors, including Michelle Kennedy, former director at Bumble and CEO and founder at Peanut, Rona Ruthen, co-founder and COO of Stealth and former VP of Monzo, Clare Johnston, founder of Up Group, Claire Davenport, CEO at notonthehighstreet, Rosaleen Blair, founder and chair at AMS, Karen Kerrigan, COO at MoneyBox and Phillip David Burton, COO at Bloom & Wild.
Existing partners include NatWest, Goldman Sachs, Ford, BT, Deloitte and Skyscanner, have also participated in the fundraise.
With the fresh capital, the startup plans to enable its reach an ambitious new target of providing one million opportunities for women to learn how to code and secure a job in tech over the next five years.
Founded in 2013, by Alice Bentinck MBE and Matthew Clifford MBE, who also co-founded startup accelerator Entrepreneur First, Code First Girls provides free virtual sessions for women and non-binary people to learn how to code. These come in three formats: online open courses, classes and “CFG degrees”. The platform has already helped 80,000 women learn to code and by working with companies globally, is boosting employability, diversity and social mobility, and transforming local economies and communities.
Code First Girls is on a mission to reduce the gender diversity gap in tech globally by giving more women the opportunity to learn new skills and pursue great careers in tech.
Speaking about the company, Chief Executive Officer of Code First Girls, Anna Brailsford, said:
"Our mission is to close the serious, long-term gender gap in the tech industry by giving women the opportunity to learn to code and get jobs in tech, at no cost to them. We’re growing at an incredibly fast pace, with businesses, government and universities across the country getting on board. We’re proud of both our social and commercial impact, having already taught 80,000 women to code for free, linking talent with jobs, and having recently 10xed our revenue and user base. Our next goal is to become the world’s first EdTech unicorn dedicated to women."
Brailsford further said:
"This funding round is a vote of confidence from major figures in the tech industry, who see our pioneering model as a solution to the tech gender gap. We’ll use this investment to provide one million opportunities for women to learn to code for free and enter the industry, driving a huge £1 billion in economic opportunities for women and a boost for the entire sector."
Code First's courses are open to all — meaning there’s no university degree requirement or age cap for applications. The platform has taught five times as many women to code as the entire UK university undergraduate system.
Co-founder of Code First Girls, Alice Bentinck, also commented on the latest move, saying:
"Code First Girls is special because it’s practical. Our DNA is all about doing – providing young women with the practical skills, confidence, and community to break into the tech world and progress through it. It’s a privilege to continue being a bridge between organisations who are keen to improve diversity and women who want to be an active part of the tech sector."
Adding further about the platform, Co-founder of Code First Girls, Matthew Clifford, said:
"There is a desperate need for more diversity in tech and we founded Code First Girls to deliver it. Following the success and astounding growth we’ve had, investors are clearly sitting up and taking notice. Their faith in our model will support us to significantly scale up the company and bring our work to more tech businesses. This is an exciting new chapter for Code First Girls, and we have ambitious plans to reach even more women, providing one million more opportunities for education and employment, turbocharging the tech industry and boosting the economy."
Alongside free online courses at every stage of the pipeline, the company also plans to put over 26,000 women through the ‘CFGdegree’ and place them into tech roles over the next five years. Given an average starting salary in tech, this equates to billions in economic opportunities for women entering into the tech industry.
Commenting on the funding, Tom Profumo, Investor, Active Partners, said:
"Traditional education providers are failing to address the significant tech talent shortages across the industry today, as well as the huge lack of diverse talent. Code First Girls offers the solution to this problem. By providing free coding courses for all women and supporting them into employment at some of the world’s biggest companies, Code First Girls is facilitating social mobility, boosting the diverse tech talent pool and addressing the tech skills gap. We have been very impressed by what Anna and the team have achieved so far and the company’s transformative impact on so many women’s lives. We look forward to joining Code First Girls on this exciting next phase of growth and supporting the team to achieve its mission to close the gender gap in the tech industry.”