Recent research shows that only 9% of all UK start-up funding goes to women-led businesses and, shockingly, only 1p in every £1 of venture capital investment currently goes to women-led start-ups.
Women’s wealth is continuing to increase – right now across the UK women hold 48% of our country’s wealth and this is forecast to increase to 60% by 2025 – yet only 14% of our business angels are women. This inequality means that both women investors and women entrepreneurs are missing out on so much financial potential.
But being someone who always looks for the opportunities instead of the problems, I’m on a mission to change all that…as a woman business angel I want to support more women entrepreneurs to achieve their purpose-driven dreams. Because more women in business is truly better for all of us – men, women and children alike.
I’ve been a business angel for several years, investing in a range of start-up companies in Scotland and beyond, and thoroughly enjoy it. I am grateful to be in a position to be able to do what I do, but it genuinely gives me a huge sense of satisfaction seeing the companies I have invested in flourish with the support of both money and advice that myself and my fellow investors can give them.
I especially love it when my investments are in women-led businesses – knowing the additional gendered challenges they have had to overcome to get to where they are spurs me on to help them even more. And if the company has products developed by women for women, all the better…as I can add more value with first-hand experience of the customer need, perhaps more so than many male investors!
As a business angel, I deeply understand the many risks involved with investing in start-up companies and accept that many investments will unfortunately fail. But making a return on my investment is only one of the reasons I invest. I’m equally interested in nurturing future female business leaders and their teams, helping them to grow and evolve, based on my own experience and that of my extended network. And I also see business angel investment as a way for me to give back to the eco-system and society that has supported me and my work for so many years.
But whilst I enjoy supporting companies and being challenged on a daily basis by the ups and downs of entrepreneurial companies, it’s fair to say that I get back as much as I give. Learning about new products and keeping up to date with new sectors and business models all helps with my own personal growth and development – we are always learning. And that’s before we add in the many social benefits of meeting new people and growing our networks, it is rewarding to help match the right connections.
So, if you are a women entrepreneur or part of the senior management team looking for business angel investment, I really just want to let you know that for both of us, it’s not just all about the money. Yes, the financial return is of course important, but there are far more unseen benefits for both of us as we work together in a team to make your business successful and have a positive impact in Scotland and beyond
Having said all that, there are of course some key things I look for in a company before I invest. There needs to be a scalable opportunity with an offering that meets a real need evidenced by a growing market and customer validation, combined with a clear route to market and it all needs to be pulled together into a cohesive business plan.
But most importantly it’s about you, the entrepreneur. Are you an entrepreneur with a clear vision yet emotionally intelligent, resilient, able to adapt and evolve? Are you willing to listen and learn, are you coachable? Do your eyes come alight with a burning brightness when you tell me how your company can make this world of ours a better place?
If so then let’s talk…
Gillian Fleming is a Business Angel and CEO of Mint Ventures, a women-led business angel investment club and network offering a fresh approach to investing by providing Social, Human and Economic (SHE) Capital for women entrepreneurs and companies with gender-balanced executive teams or boards.