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Women – and black women in particular – continue to face ‘invisible and structural’ barriers to raising investment, says Wisdom founder and CEO Dayo Akinrinade.

Akinrinade raised $2 million seed funding after launching the social audio app in the UK, US, Australia and Canada in October 2021 – but is aware that just 0.34% of venture capital backing goes to black female founders.

“It’s a challenging business environment for women in tech, particularly minority women founders,” she tells TechBlast. “The venture ecosystem is largely male-dominated and I believe this gender imbalance has shaped the dynamics of fundraising and embedded system-level biases that disadvantage women in a multitude of aspects.

“One aspect is illustrated by a Harvard study which showed that male and female entrepreneurs are asked different questions by VCs: male founders are asked ‘promotion’ questions whilst females are asked ‘prevention’ questions – and this resulted in less funding for women.

“When pitching for investment, female founders are [also] more conservative in revenue forecasts, which in turn disadvantages their fundraising efforts. 

“In my view, investment firms can affect systemic change by addressing individual biases, redesigning organisational processes like hiring and deal sourcing and publicly reporting on gender-based metrics.”

Having secured backing from First Round Capital and angel investors, Akinrinade advises that fundraising female founders access resources to inform their fundraising journey. 

“This could include mentoring from an experienced investor, or joining a tech accelerator programme which can help to strengthen the funding case and build investor networks,” she explains. 

“Fortunately, my startup was selected to attend the Apple Entrepreneur Camp, which is an intensive, hands-on technology lab where my team worked one-on-one with Apple experts and engineers to significantly accelerate the Wisdom roadmap.”

Dayo Akinrinade, CEO, Wisdom

An Accenture study found that women leave tech roles at a 45% higher rate than men. 

“Despite ongoing improvements, I believe there remain barriers to progression for black women working in tech. The barriers are often invisible and structural, which present additional challenges to overcome,” says Akinrinade.

“When working on diversity in tech initiatives, I advise companies to seek to embed diversity and inclusion into every aspect of their organisation, including their products, branding, business processes and policy. Once a company is authentically diverse, it will naturally attract and retain diverse talent.”

The entrepreneur, whose tech career began as a ‘Big 4’ IT management consultant, first founded Africlick, a cultural dating app targeting a billion Africans globally. 

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Driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, she then joined the founding team of OneTech, London’s largest diversity in startups programme, which is backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.

She has been included in the Financial Times’ Top 100 Most Influential Ethnic Minority Leaders in Technology.

As a black woman in tech, working in London’s largest diversity startup program, I observed first hand how lack of access contributes to systemic inequity. I also observed how would-be mentors and experts on LinkedIn have a clear obstacle: they have no way of engaging the many inbound requests they receive so they ignore them all, unless they get a ‘warm introduction’, which in of itself is a crystallisation of systemic inequity,” she expands.


Wisdom (above), recently featured as Apple’s App of the Day, aims to democratise mentorship by providing an inclusive space where diverse people come together to have conversations that matter. Members can chat live with experts in dozens of topics from parenting, fitness and dating to startups, mental health and beauty. They can listen live or playback the recordings on their own time. 

“The need to change the [status quo] has been a driving force behind Wisdom, where I believe in leveraging the power of social audio technology to break down barriers to ‘warm introductions’ and connect underserved founders to access more opportunities in the industry and in life,” says Akinrinade.

“Wisdom has become best known for connecting people for meaningful one-to-one-to-many social audio conversations on a particular topic and, more recently, for pioneering the voice ask-me-anything format.

“We are growing a mindful, well-intentioned community and I believe it’s the voice-to voice human connection that keeps our users returning.”

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