​Interview with Jenny Tooth

CEO of UK Business Angels Association

Could you comment on the survey results?/What do you make of the recent survey results?/How do the recent survey results reflect your experience?
What I find interesting about the results is that across all the countries, the women’s experiences were very similar. Initially it was expected that there would be more differences, but the women faced in the same challenges. The second finding of the survey was that the biggest barrier for women investors was not about taking risks, but it was more about their sense of opportunity and their time availability and other commitments in life. The overriding issue was the lack of awareness around angel investing, especially from other women who did not talk about it.

In conclusion, there is a lack of visibility around the market and this is a disservice to women angel investors.I was most surprised by the lack of knowledge and the financial advisors not telling women about angel investing nor about the tax breaks.  

Are there any national specificities that you could identify that fit/diverge from the survey results? 
The UK has a more developed market Angel investment market, with  more than 15, 000 across the UK , yet still only about 14% of UK Business angels are women. Whilst in  Belgium, with a much smaller  community of angels , after a strong  campaign, now women business angels are 22% of business angels.

Could you tell us more about your organisation?
Would you like to share your experience as a woman business angel/entrepreneur? What is the most challenging and most rewarding?
The most rewarding in angel investing is to help an entrepreneur to achieve the next level of growth. It is very inspiring to see a company become something and go on to achieve success. It is a positive impact on the economy, it more important than the financial reward, although  I also hope that I my investing will be successful.
I am keen to back women entrepreneurs, but there are not enough women entrepreneurs coming forward  seeking investment from business angels. Women entrepreneurs still have difficulty in accessing  equity compared with their male counterparts and are falling to  successfully present their businesses to  investors , often being intimidated in an all male investment environment 

Would you agree with the statement: the more woman business angels there is the more women entrepreneurs there will be?
Yes I agree, women are drawn to backing women entrepreneurs. Our research showed that between 30-50%  of  deals done by  women business angels are into women entrepreneurs’ start-ups. It is unlikely that women business angels would solely focus on women entrepreneurs, there is no exclusivity created around women business angels. Women entrepreneurs need to be helped to come forward and compete on a level-playing field for equity. It is about the deal.

From your point of view, do you think women will benefit more from being more integrated into the existing network of business angels or should women pursue their own, separate networks?
From my experience, the women in our research survey have been less interested in women -only business angels groups. They benefit more from a diverse group. Women do appreciate the advantages of being in a women -focused  investment forum, seeing regularly their own networks, being able to share knowledge, experience and issues. It enables mentoring and  sharing experiences.  We have already launched  a Women Angel Investment Forum in the UK and WA4E is planning  to launch a European Investment Forum this autumn.