Finance · 6 March 2018

Lack of women angel investors creates growth barrier for female entrepreneurs

The UK was found to have the lowest percentage of female angel investors

Female entrepreneurs are missing out on vital growth funds because of a “grave” lack of women angel investors across Europe, research has found.

According to a new study from the UK Business Angels Association, – “The Barriers and Opportunities for Women Angel Investing in Europe” –  96 per cent of high net worth individual women in the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium said their financial advisers had failed to mention angel investing as an option for them.

The study said that only 14 per cent of women investors, most notably in the UK which was found to have the lowest percentage of women angel investors amongst the nations surveyed, had been informed by advisory sources about relevant tax breaks or funds enabling them to invest in small businesses.

The majority of women were instead directed to “safer” options such as stocks and shares first followed by bonds, pension funds, assets under management and property before being made aware about EIS and VCTs.

Around three-quarters of women investors only found out about relevant investment opportunities because of their own professional groupings and networks.


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“My financial advisor assumed, as a woman, I was risk averse and I should look at safe options. He never mentioned Angel investing or the EIS tax relief scheme,” one unnamed UK based woman investor told the study.

Other barriers to investment centred around personal circumstances and attitudes.

Over half the women non-investors surveyed thought that life stage and other priorities prevented them from angel investing. Two-thirds of non-investor women didn’t know what angel investing is and 40 per cent of non-investors identified it as too risky.

Jenny Tooth, chief executive of the UKBAA, said such “gender-skewed advice” was leading to a “grave lack of women angel investors in Europe”. She said the research should be used as a catalyst to identify and address the barriers that exist around females who are or wish to angel invest.

The study – supported and part-funded by the European Commission – found that when they did invest 54 per cent put their money in to at least one company founded by women. Nearly 20 per cent have invested in 3 to 10 women founders.

This, it said, compared with only a few leading male angels investing in women led businesses.

The study also revealed that nearly 80 per cent of women investors were putting in less than £20,000 per funding round, with only 11 per cent investing between £20,000 and £50,000.

From traditional bank loans to crowdfunding, and from venture capital to invoice financing – there have never been more options for small business owners to finance their future growth.

But what business funding avenue makes most sense? Join Business Advice for our first webinar of 2018 when we’ll be taking a look at the business funding landscape.

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Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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