Scotland is set to hold it’s first conference for female angel investors and entrepreneurs will be urged to emulate US success where one in four angel investors are female.
In Scotland that figure is closer to 1 in 20 out of an estimated 1200 investors, but Investing Women chief executive officer Jackie Waring believes the gap can be narrowed over the next five years.
More than 200 delegates will today gather at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth for Investing Women’s inaugural Ambition & Growth conference which brings together successful and would-be entrepreneurs and established angel investors.
Mrs Waring said her group’s ambition was to help increase Scotland’s female angels from an estimated 60 to 300, matching the female representation already achieved in the USA, and in the process giving the Scottish economy a significant boost.
Recent research on behalf of veteran Archangels Investors group found that every £1 of investment it had created since its foundation in 1992 had generated the equivalent of £14 in turnover, equating to a £1.3 billion uplift to the economy.
She said: “Based on the £44 million raised with the support of angel investment in Scotland last year, if we can get close to the US level of female investors, the additional investment generated could be worth £140 million per year to the economy. That will take time and a lot of hard work but it has already been done in the USA so why not here?
“Investing Women’s aims to help improve awareness amongst women and remove some of the barriers and misconceptions surrounding angel investment. One of those misconceptions is that you need to be a multi-millionaire to become an angel which simply isn’t true.
“Understanding risk is key and we recognise that everyone has their own risk tolerance level, but many women we’ve spoken to find angel investment an attractive proposition where they love working with the dynamic entrepreneurs whilst having their money working harder for them, especially with Government tax incentives which mitigates the investment risk.”
Investing Women has been extremely active since launching as an angel group. Within the last 20 months, thanks to Scottish Government entrepreneurial support, over 1000 emerging entrepreneurs and potential new female angels have accessed workshops, events and now the Ambition & Growth Conference.
The conference has also attracted blue-chip business backing with sponsorship from Standard Life, while prominent conference speakers include Susan Preston, the US based founder of the world’s first female angel group, unicorn company FanDuel’s Lesley Eccles, Virgin StartUp chief executive Mei Shui, and Scottish Enterprise chief executive Dr Lena Wilson.
Stephen Ingledew, MD, Marketing at Standard Life, said: “The entrepreneurial spirit is clearly thriving in Scotland and judging the shortlist for the AccelerateHer competition, I was inspired by the creativity and collaboration evident in the work being done. Businesses of all sizes can learn from the dynamism of small businesses, particularly when it comes to meeting the evolving needs of customers. I’m looking forward to speaking to more entrepreneurs and innovators about this at the conference.”
Centrepiece of the two-day conference is a gala dinner tonight (Mon 7 March) at Edinburgh Castle hosted by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, Annabelle Ewing, MSP, who will announce the winner of an £18,000 Chiene + Tait AccelerateHER pitching competition for entrepreneurs.
Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, Ms Ewing said: “I would like to congratulate Investing Women, Scotland’s only female business angel group, on launching its inaugural pitch competition dedicated to Women’s entrepreneurs, AccelerateHer.
“The Scottish Government believes that supporting more women to set up and succeed in business is an economic priority and is committed to closing the gender-gap in enterprise.
“Through Scotland CAN DO, our joint national statement of intent towards becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation, we make clear that growth and enterprising activity is a valid and viable option for all.”