Supporting underrepresented
tech leaders

Libra will be a springboard for existing underrepresented founders based in the UK who are growing and scaling despite market failure. The inaugural programme will focus on the Black founder experience, helping them navigate the scaling journey. The programme’s main aim is to level the playing field for excellent Black founders to scale to their fullest potential.

The free, non-residential, six-month programme is centred around themed insights sessions, delivered by some of the most established entrepreneurs, covering topics such as raising series A, selling into corporates, scaling your operations and expanding internationally. The programme will have a focus on peer-to-peer learning and the cohort companies sharing the challenges in their own individual journeys. The cohort will also be introduced to key stakeholders and decision-makers within corporates, investment firms, government bodies and others during networking events. Additionally, the Libra programme offers access to the cross-programme sessions hosted by Tech Nation sector programmes focused on Fintech and Applied AI and Net-Zero.

Who should apply? 

To assess if your company would benefit from this programme, check if you fulfil the following criteria.

  • The company must have at least one founder that self-identifies as Black or multiracial with Black heritage This member must have a majority/equal equity stake in the business.
  • Incorporated within the last 1 – 5 years
  • Have a UK headquarters
  • You are a digital tech business with a product or service
  • Your company will be at the Seed to pre-Series A funding stage.
  • If bootstrapped, your max annual revenue is below £1.5m
  • You are able to demonstrate market traction
  • You have at least one active client or pilot
  • You are able to commit to the programme
  • You have the ambition to scale

*Agencies and consultancies are excluded. 

For more application advice, tips and guidance see our Programme Application Guide. To compare all programmes, see our Apply Now page.

What does the programme include? 

As a founder, you will benefit from the Libra programme offering, giving you access to networks, commercial and capital. 

Network

The programme will create peer-to-peer network within the cohort itself and through access to the Tech Nation Alumni. All our programmes focus on creating a safe and trusted environment.  

Sessions

We want to bring you insightful and inspiring sessions from experts, who know what’s involved in scaling a tech company and can speak openly about their journey. 

Commercial

Tech Nation programmes focus on creating lasting relationships between founders and larger corporates across the world that can offer a mutually beneficial relationship. 

Capital

We aim to break down barriers to understand and access venture capital, angel investors and family offices. With us, you’ll have several opportunities to network with key stakeholders.

Why should you choose Libra?

At Tech Nation, we believe we can change the tech industry for the better, make a real difference and see our future Libra Alumni reach the unicorn status and beyond. From research, the time to support Black founders is now: 

  • Tech Nation has already built strong relationships with investors and can leverage these relationships to help Libra cohorts navigate conversations around investment and secure VC funding.
  • From our research and discovery work, we spoke to a group of 32 people, consisting of founders, thought leaders and investors. They all agreed that a programme such as Libra would benefit Black founders and ultimately, the entire tech ecosystem.
  • We want to support the future cohort with how to navigate investing conversations and secure investment.

“I’m so excited to be leading the new Libra Growth Programme at Tech Nation. We have seen numerous reports highlighting the racial inequalities for Black founders scaling. This year, the Libra Growth Programme will push the needle and open access to capital, network, and commercial to early-stage Black founders.”

Abi Mohamed, Libra Programme Lead
Abi Mohamed,
Libra Programme Lead

What our supporters say

“Black founders should recognise the value you get from Tech Nation’s programmes, from gaining access to networks of entrepreneurs, skilled operators and investors. Most importantly, you could leave the programme with more customers and traction if you maximise the experience.”

Andy Ayim MBE, Angel Investing School

“Delighted to see a programme like this that takes a clear-eyed, methodological approach to finding the areas of unfair disadvantage experienced by Black founders and plugging those gaps.” 

Daisy Onubogu, Head of Network & Communities at BACKED VC

“There isn’t a pipeline problem, there is a social and financial capital allocation problem. For female founders, the ecosystem is five years behind the current status quo, and for Black and ethnic minority founders, the ecosystem is 10 years behind. Programmes like Libra will help to hopefully narrow the gap.” 

Tom Adeyoola, ex-CEO & Co-founder, Extend VC

FAQs

What is the background of the programme?

In 2020, Tech Nation partnered with Extend VC and Impact X on a report which showed the correlation of how the colour of a founder’s skin can adversely affect their access to capital in the UK. The report found that from 2009 to 2019, only 38 Black entrepreneurs received venture capital funding, which is something we think is unacceptable. As a country, we need to look at these numbers and make the next 10 years better. 

In 2020, we saw the most energised Black Lives Matter movement take centre stage and be hyper-visible across the world. We saw organisations making public statements of change, such as Google supporting and investing in early-stage Black business across Europe. From the data, we can all agree venture capital has been historically a white-dominated industry. In the 2020 Atomico State of European Tech Report, they agreed that the BLM movement has cast a spotlight on the massive racial inequalities in the European tech ecosystem. 

We believe this change will only come by challenging and improving the current landscape of tech and the investment sector, but also by actively offering support, peer to peer contact and a safe space for Black tech founders. The Libra programme aims to do all these things.

Can I apply for several programmes? 

Yes, and we encourage that you apply to the programmes you feel will benefit you the most. Keep in mind, you could be eligible for several! For example, if you fulfil the criteria of Libra but you’re an aspiring fintech, you could apply to both the Libra and Fintech programme. To find the right fit for you, check our programme comparison page.

How is the programme funded? 

The programme is fully funded by Tech Nation.

How can I get support with my application? 

We have several resources for applicants. 

  1. We strongly recommend you get in touch with the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager of your area. They can help you with your application and they’re also a good contact to have when navigating your local tech ecosystem. 
  2. You can reach out to the Programme Lead, Abi Mohamed
  3. Check out the Guide for Applicants.

How much time do I have to commit to sessions and events?

The programme is estimated to last for 6 months, kicking off in September. We’ll be looking to run one expert-led session per month, along with a peer-to-peer networking session and you will also be offered to partake in individual founder coaching sessions.  The time spent on the programme varies every week, but we estimate 5 – 6 hours per month.