The relative difficulty that women entrepreneurs have in finding financing for their businesses has long been a topic of concern. Now a new project is aiming to improve women’s access to capital by mentoring and training women to become angel investors and eventually fund other women’s companies.
Pipeline Fund, a social venture fund founded by Natalia Oberti Noguera that invests in women-led for-profit social ventures, recently launched its Pipeline Fund Fellowship, the New York Times reports. The Pipeline Fund Fellowship will train women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentorship and practice.
The 10 women fellows will learn about due diligence, term sheets, valuations, board governance, and other aspects of evaluating a company for investment. They will each be matched with an experienced angel investor, including both men and women, to serve as a role model. Finally, they’ll apply what they learn to real life; at the end of the program, the entire group will select a women-owned social venture to receive a $50,000 investment.
Oberti Noguera, whose website describes her as dedicated to improving the visibility of female changemakers in the media, told the Times she launched the Fellowship to improve funding options for women and help address the lack of women in venture capital.
The 10 fellows (you can view the full list at the Pipeline website) come from a diverse range of industries. Each fellow pays $1,000 for the program and also commits to investing $5,000 toward the overall $50,000 investment in the chosen startup.
I think the low amount of capital needed to participate in the fellowship is one of its best features since it opens the program to women who might not otherwise participate. As women, too often we achieve success in business without fully understanding the details of finances. We leave it to someone else, or we’re shy about asking how certain elements of financing really work for fear of admitting our ignorance. And for many women, talking about money openly just “isn’t done.” (One fellow interviewed by the Times noted that, although women business owners often network and seek advice from each other, the one area they are still reluctant to discuss with each other is financing, raising capital and investing.)
Getting more women involved in angel capital can only be a good thing. One of the benefits of obtaining an angel investor is not just the money, but the experience and mentorship an angel can bring to your business. Angels typically have some experience in the industries they invest in, so their advice and guidance can be especially meaningful to an entrepreneur. If your angel is a woman who’s been through the same kinds of startup and growth challenges you have, so much the better. Angels who can relate to the women heading companies they invest in will be uniquely poised to help them grow.
Times author Adriana Gardella will be following the progress of the fellows as they go through the program.