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Where are all the female angel investors?

Angel investment groups, it seems, still think women are only suited to being Charlie's Angels. 

Robbie Paul

Ice Angels startup funding manager Robbie Paul

Female angel investors are scarce in Europe, the US, and yes, in New Zealand – according to Angel Association New Zealand, which encompasses all of New Zealand's angel networks and clubs, only five percent of angel investors are female. 

Five percent may seem pretty dire. However, European female angels are also in a minority at 10 percent and the US does only slightly better at 13 percent, a new report by the OECD states.

One of the reasons for this shortage is that few female entrepreneurs have headed or started high-tech companies who have the experience and funds to become investors. 

However, there are a large number of women who are indirectly involved with the network – Angel Association executive director Colin McKinnon says investors are often using family money to invest. McKinnon describes this as the "wife's fund", putting a small amount into each of the companies involved with the angel network. 

"We're very excited to see more female entrepreneurs – there are currently few female investors. As women become more successful and create more wealth, they will begin to invest in the angel network. In the future we (AANZ) hope to see more female members."

Some of the female-led companies that are part of AANZ include Cure Kids Ventures, the separate investment entity of charity Cure Kids, led by chief Maxine Simmons. 

Within the New Zealand Ice Angels network there are only seven female members out of 110. The Ice Angels have invested in 34 companies within New Zealand, but so far, of these companies only two are headed by women. 

Startup funding manager Robbie Paul says this is because there are only a limited number of women applicants.

Overseas, angels have attempted to combat this by creating investment groups that invest solely in female-led companies. 

Some of the big names include BELLE Capital, Detroit's all-female investment group; New York’s Golden Seeds – open to both male and female investors; and Europe’s GoBeyond.

A recent OECD-supported conference in Asia, We Own It, also discussed the importance of providing potential female angel investors with training.