In response to growing concerns that sex education in UK schools is outdated, four business women in London set out to provide empowering Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) workshops to the next generation.
It was statistics like these that inspired Laura Coryton, Julia Coryton, Gussie Ivory-Peters, and Sian Green’s dream to deliver RSE workshops in UK schools so that all young people could have the knowledge and confidence to tackle sex and relationship taboos and stay safe. They called their idea Sex Ed Matters (SEM).
Laura Coryton, Sex Ed Matter’s co-founder, explained, “It was really interesting because Gussie, Sian, Julia and I were all interested in different aspects of Sex Education. When I brought up the subject, they were as excited as I was! So we thought, why not start our own business? We’re all really into feminism and thought a female-owned, female-run business on breaking sex education taboos that hold girls and women back would be so amazing.”
They aimed to establish a pilot scheme which would bring to life the Government’s new RSE curriculum. Though to provide tailored talks, workshops, resources and support to 40 schools across the country during their initial 12 months, they would need £4,000.
The Back Her Business Win £2,000 competition
Through our initiative to close the gender gap in business, we ran a competition where female founders had a chance of winning £2,000 in grant funding as long as they reached their crowdfunding goal.
In June 2019, the SEM team entered their idea into the competition and, through this, the Sex Ed Matters: Tackling Sex & Relationship Taboos crowdfunder was born.
When asked if they had experienced any obstacles as a team of entrepreneurial women, Laura said, “The biggest challenge so far has been twofold: firstly, juggling the pressures of starting a business with our full time jobs and, secondly, people taking our business seriously. Friends see ‘Sex Ed Matters’ as a hobby when it’s so much more than that. Ensuring we’re taken seriously is hard work! But it makes us work harder as tackling these taboos is so important and we’re up to the challenge!”
Their campaign ran for 28 days and 104 supporters raised £5,230, smashing their original target of £4,000. This included the £2,000 prize from us as part of the competition. With the extra-money that had been raised, they aimed to reach even more schools with their scheme.
Laura said, “NatWest’s ‘Back Her Business’ funding has meant so much to us! Firstly, it gave us legitimacy. Secondly, it proved to us that people like our business idea. It gives us such motivation to know that other people – and often strangers – believe in us. Finally, it’s given us so much possibility. We have been able to buy really essential things, like getting our sex education resources for schools and students professionally designed to help tackle taboos, our website looking sharp and accessible for students across the country and promo packs to send to new schools looking for support in delivering this crucial part of the curriculum.”
Since crowdfunding, the Sex Ed Matters team have begun giving their talks and workshops to schools and spreading the awareness of their business.
“So much has happened since crowdfunding and surpassing our target by over £1,000! We’ve had the funds to establish our brand which was really important because our business is about tackling sex and relationship education taboos like those surrounding periods and FGM. If our brand didn’t look fun, accessible and sharp, we would risk perpetuating those taboos. We have also collaborated with other organisations including ‘Be Her Lead’, we’ve gone into five schools to give RSE-taboo-busting workshops and we’ve even spoken at the UN’s ‘Girl Up’ conference on female leadership to spread awareness of our business and the taboos we’re tackling! Next year, we’re launching our teacher training scheme to ensure we have a larger outreach and we’re going to be posting our resources to schools.”
She continued, “We also have so many people who volunteer to help us with our campaigns, including our selfie #SexEdMatters campaign, where almost 50 people stated why sex ed matters to them. We hope to expand more and more over 2020.”
Top tips from Sex Ed Matter’s Laura Coryton
After such a successful experience of crowdfunding with #BackHerBusiness, Laura left us with her top tips for anyone looking to crowdfund for their great idea.
“Never lose hope! There will be peaks and low days in terms of the money you will raise, but don’t let that put you off. We found that the more money we raised, the more people tended to pledge as the risk of their pledge decreases. Don’t focus too much on daily goals and make sure your mind is very much focused on your overall mission and goal.”
“Women especially are conditioned from a young age to be cautious, responsible and to doubt themselves. Being careful is, of course, a great strength in business but never let it hold you back! You’ll be surprised how many people support you and their belief in you will help you to believe in your own ideas. Their backing will help you change the world!”
Thinking about crowdfunding for your own dream? Check out our Back Her Business programme where you could receive expert coaching, networking opportunities, and grants of up to £5,000.