In this episode of Female Founders in Focus, we speak to Tamara Gillan of the WealthiHer Network. The WealthiHer Network is on a mission to drive the economic advancement of women on a global stage, by leveraging the power of insight, collaboration and education to better understand, empower and enable women. Interviewed by Fresh business thinking’s Praseeda Nair, Tamara gives some insight into the challenging journey she’s gone through as a bonafied female founder.

Tamara has been an extremely successful entrepreneur, founding two award-winning marketing agencies and led some of the world’s most notorious collaborations. Visa’s London 2012 Olympics Campaign and O2 Priority are but a few in the long list of major accomplishments.

Read more: Did 2020 bridge the funding gender gap?

“I started my first business when I was 30, because that’s what I said I would do,” Tamara begins. “I lost that business at 33 because I didn’t manage the money but I started another business and I was wiser.” The experience and second business led to her being approached by someone in the banking industry who wanted to make a network for female entrepreneurs and founders.

The scope of the problem 

“We know that female founders either do not think that the funding options are for them, or will not get a fair deal from those traditional avenues,” says Tamara. Despite the gender gap closing in terms of male to female business owners in the UK, 67.63% of businesses are still male-led, indicating perhaps a lack of support for women looking to make their own businesses, something Tamara is clearly trying to rectify.

“There seems to be a lot of focus from financial institutions and investors to fund women, almost to the point of risking tokenism,” says Praseeda. Tamara had some thoughts on why despite the potential tokenism women are facing in business, they’re not closing the gender gap as quickly as you would expect: “They’re not finding each other,” she says. “Those people that have that strategic intent to fund women aren’t finding these female founders”.

“I do think there’s tokenism, but let’s take that tokenism if it results in female founders being backed!”

Tamara Gillan

How can female founders change the language of investors? 

“We have to make sure great female founders and businesses find investors who have it on their agenda, and have an intent to listen differently.” says Tamara, discussing the investors who have a female-focus. She urges women to seek support where they can and practice, mentioning HSBC’s practice pitch days that prepare women.

Tamara says women in the UK are less confident than not only men, but other women in other parts of the world, citing her own research: “(British) women are less confident than women in Asia,” something Tamara says she strives to work against. But why?

“If you are constantly told you are not the archetype of success, then you become less confident”

Tamara Gillan

A topic that’s been touched on by a significant amount of literature, telling someone repeatedly they’re not successful can impede not only their path in the business world but also in their life. Tamara says “women’s confidence drops 65% in the first 3 years of work.”

Tamara noticed according to one of her research partners, Kantar, society doesn’t believe women should be leaders. “That’s one hell of a barrier to overcome.” she says.

It’s not all bad news though. “There is a focus on diversity and advancing women like never before,” says Tamara. “Success is being redefined, not purely based on ROI.” Tamara thinks consumers and governments are demanding a broader view of success, something good for all of us, especially female founders.  

Watch the full interview above or check out our YouTube channel for more.