The UK has one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial communities in the world, but only one in three of our entrepreneurs is female – which is why we need to be more ambitious and find ways to unlock the huge untapped potential
One such successful tech entrepreneur found NatWest’s dedicated programme to support Black Asian and Minority Ethnic female entrepreneurs, delivered in partnership with Black South West Network, came at the perfect time to develop a mentoring app for young women to follow in her footsteps.
As an IT postgraduate surrounded by male colleagues at university, Rav Bumbra’s passion for redressing the gender imbalance was fired. That passion has driven her on to an impressive track record helping more women enter and progress in tech roles.
In 2018, Rav developed a ground-breaking mentoring app, Cajigo, to help women enter and progress in tech roles – it was trialled first with women in industry and university students.
When the pandemic halted her work to encourage female school pupils in Bristol to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, Rav found the NatWest accelerator programme. She credits the programme with helping her move Cajigo on to the next stage.
“I’m so grateful for this programme because that was really what I needed at the time,” she says. “It helped me build that customer journey and focus on who was really going to benefit from Cajigo and where it was going.
“We’ve now got a primary focus of working with schools and helping 20,000 girls move into the tech industry.”
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Climate Engagement and Partnerships at NatWest said: “As longstanding supporters of Women in Business we understand the various challenges that women might face when setting up or running their business. This is why we partner with organisations such as Black South West Network to run bespoke specialist programmes to support women in business, alongside our Business Builder and Accelerator programmes and our dedicated Women in Business Specialists who provide tailored support for women looking to start up and succeed in business to help them achieve their ambitions.”
Redressing the imbalance
After postgraduate studies, Rav worked in IT with Compuserve, then as a technical consultant. Her next move – into technical recruitment – saw her enjoy great success mentoring and coaching women into tech roles. In that role, Rav spoke to employers about why they needed to embrace diversity and the benefits this would bring to their teams.
“It became a passion of mine, so in 2015 I set up Structur3dpeople to work with employers, and help them drive their diversity efforts,” she says.
Structur3dpeople helps organisations attract, recruit and retain diverse talent. It was instrumental in Rav setting up a mentoring programme for women, which proved another
big success in driving confidence and aspirations.
“After the first session 90% of them were inspired and motivated to go away and start applying for jobs – and within six months we’d had 50% of the group apply for and get a job first time,” she says.
“I talk to women who work in technology roles across industries,” she says. “By sharing their stories and strategies for successful careers, we hope to inspire many more women to enter and progress within technology fields.”
“Looking to the future, she hopes to see female-led businesses thrive in the UK. “That can only happen if there is better access to funding and more investment into female-led businesses,” she says. There’s no doubt that her work is helping to drive things in the right direction – Bumbra was awarded the TechWomen100 Diversity Champion of the Year award in 2020 from WeAreTheCity – and she’s as excited as ever about helping more women into tech roles.
For women launching businesses in the sector, she has these words of advice: “Get ready to go on the best ride of your life. There will be many ups and downs, so don’t let the bad days put you off. “Make sure you carry out your research, gauge your potential markets, evaluate your idea, and get practical advice and support from mentors. “And join an accelerator programme if possible: it will help you develop the building blocks of your business and your financial knowledge.”