Women entrepreneurs discuss role in investment community

Women entrepreneurs start businesses at a rate 1.5x higher than men, tackling the world’s biggest problems and spurring innovations that will shape our future…reports Asian Lite News

Prominent women entrepreneurs from around the world gathered to discuss initiatives that foster businesses based on good practices, at a session held during Investopia 2023 annual conference, which took place last week in Abu Dhabi.

Organised in partnership with The Helm, this session was moderated by Rachel Pether, Senior Advisor for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute and hosted panelists Lindsey Taylor Wood Founder & General Partner at The Helm; Huda Al Lawati, Founder and CEO at Aliph Capital; and Nadine Benchaffai, Founder Angel Investor.

Women entrepreneurs start businesses at a rate 1.5x higher than men, tackling the world’s biggest problems and spurring innovations that will shape our future. Yet, female-led investment firms receive just 2 percent of all venture capital, with a disproportionate amount being invested in consumer-focused funds. The speakers presented important facts about the realities that face female founders and solutions to address the gender bias.

Lindsey Taylor Wood shined a spotlight on the huge discrepancy between investments received by men and women. Using data from Harvard Business School, she highlighted differences in questions asked during interviews that influence this division. She encouraged re-framing of narratives around good business practices. She also said that “decade’s worth of data from multiple institutions and resources clearly showcases that women-led businesses perform better, so why are we so wilfully engaging and ignoring that data”. She added that women-founded companies perform 63 percent better and 35 percent returns higher.

Huda Al Lawati explained that cheques are given in environments where women are usually not going to be in, offering an example from a Harvard study showcased that when two equally qualified individuals take the same interview and behave the same way with the same confidence level, qualified women are considered aggressive, and men would be defined as confident. She argued that challenge here is not about needing special training, experience nor skills but rather it is biases in the investment community. “The biggest thing the investment community can do is not be biased in their assessment. The investment community should be open-minded and listen to people, no matter what group they ‘belong to’.”

Explaining what would really help rebalance investments Nadine Benchaffai advised women need to manage funds to ensure change happens. Female investors can help erase bias; there is a need for more women on the investors’ side. Lindsey Taylor Wood believes the key lies in investing in female founders, and in female-led funds.

Lindsey Taylor Wood said women with wealth are the single greatest lever for change to happen. Al Lawati, however, cautioned that it does not matter who inherits the health; what matters is who manages the wealth. Women need to manage the funds to ensure things change. By investing in good businesses, regardless of gender, and reframing the narrative to focus on good business, we can create a more diverse and inclusive business landscape.

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