Increasing investing in female founded startups

At the end of 2021, less than 7% of funding raised across Africa in that year went to female CEOs, while less than 1% was allocated to single female founders (Africa: The Big Deal). During International Women’s Month 2022, we explored these statistics at Angel Connect – a virtual gathering where AAA’s broader community discuss issues in the investment ecosystem.

Published: April 2022


Gathering under the theme “Increasing Investing in Female Founded Startups”, the Angel Connect that took place on 28 March, was nothing short of insightful, with a panel discussion featuring Aysha Tegally (Future Females Invest), Demi Edosomwam (Rising Tide Africa), and Hema Vallabh (Five 35 Ventures).

Each panellist shared their views on ways that all stakeholders across the ecosystem can work together to close the gap and disparity that exists for female-led ventures. “A true measure of success is when you have a gender lens investing conversation and there are also male investors in the room,” said Hema Vallabh towards the end of the discussion. “The reality right now is [with] where the capital [currently] lies, men have to be part of this conversation. Investing in female led startups is not a women only problem. Everybody can leverage this opportunity.”

Here are some of the other takeaways (there were many) we received from the panellists:

Aysha Tegally – Future Females Invest

Aysha Tegally is an entrepreneur, business coach and founder of Future Females Invest, an incubator and accelerator set up to provide capital for female founders. “Through our work we’ve seen that women don’t get access to capital in the same way their male counterparts do. And what we’ve also seen is the incredible impact that investing in female founded businesses has on not only the founder but also on the business,” said Aysha in her introduction. “We have intentionally created this to invest in female founders but to also unlock capital held by women to go to female founders. We’ve seen the abismall statistics. The only way we can change that is to have more women put their money where their mouth is in writing these checks. [Ultimately], we’re on a journey to democratise access to capital for female founders and for women to take charge of their futures. That’s what we do at FFI.”

Demi Edosomwam – Rising Tide Africa
Demi Edosomwam is a member of Rising Tide Africa, one of the continent’s largest angel investing funds for women. The key mandates of the Rising Tide Africa network is to dedicate their passion, capital, support and networks to support early stage startups that are creating a new Africa. “I believe that it’s often said women won’t take a step until they feel they are 110% qualified, so we’re trying to make sure we channel that knowledge and information about investing in startups to women, training our network of female investors to be able to then focus on investing in female led startups. So where we see ourselves is trying to create an equal playing ground,” says Demi when asked about Rising Tide Africa’s focus. Demi also highlights that in a bid to create balance, Rising Tide Africa is intentional and deliberate when looking at the first level of deal flow. “We encourage male led teams to diversify – this is why this work is important. It’s really about being deliberate to say, how can we harness our own influence? We could actively influence the way business is run going forward to make sure it’s more gender balanced.”

Hema Vallabh – Five 35 Ventures
Hema Vallabh is an engineer turned entrepreneur turned investor who is a founding partner at Five35 Ventures, a pan-African VC fund investing in women in tech. She is also the co-founder & CEO of WomHub, a boutique pan-African incubator and the first co-working space for female-founders in STEM in Africa. “Statistically, Africa has more female founders than male founders. But, women largely bootstrap their businesses, often don’t ask for capital early enough, or don’t ask for enough capital. And there’s a reason for this,” says Hema.  “When you create and open up the space, people will come to the party.  Until we normalise women being in the big spaces too, then the narrative won’t change,” says Hema. How do angels diversify their pipelines? Hema responds: “work with funds who can also do the work for you.”

A big thanks to our panel for participating! To grab the rest of the nuggets of knowledge dropped during this important conversation, watch the replay of the Angel Connect below:

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