A New Freelance Accelerator for Women Just Launched in the UK

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The term “accelerator” usually brings up images of tech startup accelerators like YCombinator or Techstars that offer intensive classes and business connections in exchange for a slice of equity. Now, one company is applying the model to freelancers, helping them overcome the challenges of building a freelance business. One of the first ever freelance accelerator programs, business consultancy IN4.0 and coworking company The Landing have partnered to launch FreelanceHER100. 

The program, as the name might suggest, focuses on women. Specifically, women who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and want to start their own freelance business. For the inaugural program, The Landing and IN4.0 will select 100 women to join the freelance accelerator. Naomi Timperley, co-founder of Tech North Advocates, is the director of the program, according to The Landing. 

“We want to empower female freelancers to be strong leaders, to create powerful enterprises and to influence and shape the world through their companies, using collaboration, community, and innovation,” says Timperley in the official launch announcement.

Supporting women freelancers

The reason behind supporting women specifically is economic, says The Landing. The launch announcement cites research from the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which found that women were one third more likely to work in an area impacted by the pandemic. Further, it cites research from LinkedIn that found women were less likely to be hired during the peak of the pandemic, resulting in further joblessness for women.

Mo Isap, IN4.0 Group CEO, says, “We know that because of the pandemic there are women who are now out of employment but have ambitions to use their talents to do something for themselves and Covid has catalysed their career into entrepreneurship.”

The values page of the freelance accelerator program states that “Community is at the heart of this programme [sic].” Further, the program seeks to “empower female freelancers to be strong leaders, to create powerful enterprises and to influence and shape the world through their companies, using collaboration, community, and innovation.” 

The freelance accelerator curriculum

The freelance accelerator program will be 12 weeks long and delivered virtually, starting January 8th, 2021. The curriculum, according to the website, will help women freelancers with a variety of things: 

  • Launching and scaling their business.
  • Securing funding for the business.
  • Helping participants resign from their full-time job and move into freelancing full-time.
  • Learning the business-design process, even if that means ultimately choosing to not go into entrepreneurship. 
  • Learning new entrepreneurial skills to apply in either a business or in a job.

Participants can expect to have one workshop per week over 12 weeks. Each workshop runs three times per week to provide more flexibility on which time slots work best for each participant. There will also be 12 peer-to-peer mentorship sessions facilitated by a mentor. Mentors include Tina Boden, co-founder of #MicroBizMatters Day & Micro Business Expert, and Sarah Townsend, author of Survival Skills for Freelancers.

The FreelanceHER100 program will also have an online community where the 100 women can meet and connect with each other. Because of a funding partnership with the European Union Regional Development Fund, the program is fully funded for participants. 

The program is only available to Manchester, UK-based freelancers at the moment. Applications close on December 31st, 2020. Find more information and see if you qualify here: https://www.thelanding.org.uk/freelanceher100/.

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