Why it’s Time to Claim Your Seat - As a Change-Making Angel Investor

Women hold powerful potential as untapped investors – and there are organisations working hard to bring more of us to the table

Sarah King
May 25, 2023
(Photo: Wonderbooth)
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Right now, something extraordinary is happening. There’s a much-needed, long-fought-for shift in the balance of global wealth, with 32% now sitting in women's hands and women adding $5 trillion to the global wealth pool every year.

It’s a monumental change, but it’s also so much more than that – it’s a monumental opportunity. Because claiming your seat isn’t just about having and holding wealth. It’s about using your financial independence to have a voice, make an impact, build the world you want to live in and – crucially – pave the way for other women to do the same.

Angel investing is an incredible way to do all of those things, and it’s time more women discovered the benefits. If it’s new to you, angel investing is all about investing your capital (money) in early-stage businesses that want to grow, scale up and achieve bigger, bolder goals. 

(Katt Yukawa/Unsplash)

Yes, investing in early-stage businesses is always high-risk (and you could lose the money you invest). But it’s also an opportunity to work with innovative founders, to disrupt the inequality that dictates which types of entrepreneurs get funding, and to place a bet on the businesses you genuinely believe in and want to see thrive in our world. 

Inequality breeds inequality

For too long, angel investing has been massively dominated by men. In fact, today in the UK, just 14% of angel investors are women. That means women are missing out on the opportunity not only to generate wealth through angel investing, but also to influence which businesses succeed, which problems they address and which products get to the market. In turn, that means women are less likely to be seen and well served by the companies, organisations, products and services that surround us.

But that’s not all. A worldwide lack of women angel investors is also directly impacting the amount of early-stage funding reaching women-built businesses. Research shows that female investors are more likely to invest in women founders. So when there’s a global shortage of women using their wealth in this way – because we’ve never been educated, encouraged or empowered to do so – it’s no wonder women founders experience such extreme inequality in accessing funding.

“We all need to stand up and create this change.  and we all have the power to do that.” - Sarah King

Female founders in the UK get just 1% of investment, and the situation is even worse for Black women founders. Extend Ventures Diversity Beyond Gender report shows they get an abysmal 0.02%. In 2023, these figures are inexcusable. But as the wealth of the world shifts, we as women have an opportunity to make change.

Building a better investment ecosystem

Here in the UK, the Women Backing Women campaign is at the forefront of that movement. Launched in 2022 by the Women Angel Investment Taskforce and led by Jenny Tooth OBE, the campaign has its roots in the landmark Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship. 

Its goals are clear – to increase the number of women who decide to become an angel investor and to expand the women angel ecosystem across the UK. In doing so, Jenny and the team want to make sure more women founders UK-wide have better access to the funding they need to scale their businesses.

The Women Backing Women campaign collaborates with investor groups and key partners right across the UK to turn those big ambitions into decisive action – and real change. At our organisation, Obu, we’re right behind them. We’re signatories of the Investing in Women Code and, as well as campaigning for change, we’re actively building new financial services products to actually make it happen.

(Photo: Wonderbooth)

We’ve designed an investment platform for eligible UK angel investors, specifically focused on welcoming women in. It’s a place where new and experienced women angel investors can discover brilliant women founders, build relationships and make investments – guided, supported and empowered, every step of the way. And while growing the women angel population is our focus, we’re an inclusive platform where investors who are allies for a more equal ecosystem are welcome, regardless of their gender.

But we don’t just want to reach women ready to invest right now. We’re also nurturing a pipeline of potential future women investors through The Obu Angel Collective. It’s a free-to-join space where women – and allies – can grow their investment know-how, experience and confidence.

Positive new perspectives

Just like the Women Backing Women campaign, we firmly believe change is possible, and that a world where women are empowered to claim their seat, invest and be invested in, is a better world for everyone. 

Research shows that women are 20% more likely than men to create ventures with a social or environmental purpose, and that businesses which actively pursue social good tend to outperform those who don’t. Which all means that, whether they’re making or receiving investments, women tend to use their capital to make hugely positive impacts not just on their businesses – but on wider communities and societies.

(Photo: Averie Woodward/Unsplash)

So how do we actually empower women to count themselves in and consider becoming an angel investor? Well, the first step is to close the knowledge gap that exists around angel investing and help women understand whether they could invest now – or in the future. 

Secondly, we need to break down unnecessary barriers like the endless jargon and exclusivity that surround investing. And thirdly, we need to create spaces, platforms and communities where women actually feel invited, welcomed and comfortable. Places where their experience, needs and aspirations with investing are seen, understood and designed for. At Obu, our team’s working hard on all of these fronts.

Tax incentives for angel investors

There are good, effective incentives in existence to encourage angel investing and reduce the financial risks involved, but when 96% of UK women say their financial adviser hasn’t even spoken to them about becoming an investor, it’s no wonder women are in the dark. 

At Obu we’ve been raising awareness of, and successfully campaigning to extend, the UK government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). The scheme offers tax breaks of up to 50% on angel investments in businesses up to three years old, hugely limiting the amount of money investors are putting at risk by backing them. We believe making more women aware that schemes like this exist is crucial to empowering more women to count themselves in.

(Photo: Karina Lyburn)

That’s the issue we’ve set out to address at Obu by building a women-focused investment platform. It’s about putting practical tools in women’s hands so potential angels know where to find credible start-ups and ambitious founders know where to find reputable angels, ready to invest. And more than that, it’s about demystifying the process both sides need to go through to come together, complete a successful investment, and start hitting their goals.

At the same time, we want to elevate what it means to be an angel investor, as well as what the angel-founder relationship could look like, and achieve. So, we’re working to foster positive, productive partnerships based on a capital+ approach. 

Making the magic happen

Capital+ means encouraging a new generation of women angels to invest not just their capital, but their wisdom, networks and cheerleading, bringing the very best of what they’ve learned and experienced in life and work into the early-stage businesses they’re backing. 

Because when they do, that’s when the magic happens – businesses thrive, investments achieve stronger returns and, together, women angels and founders make a bigger, more positive impact on the world. What a way to claim your seat.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article constitutes investment advice, and when investing your capital is at risk. Investors accessing the investment platform are subject to eligibility.