Women’s presence in venture capital and angel investing is (gradually) increasing

By Noah Goad

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Canada is among the world’s leaders in women’s participation in entrepreneurship. However, there are strides that still need to be made.

Written by Noah Goad

One of the most pressing issues in all of North America is women’s presence (or lack thereof) in a number of industry leading fields. Today, women are starting business at a faster rate than ever.

Throughout the years, Canada has been at the forefront for civil rights progression.

On July 11, Female Funders and Hockeystick released “Women in Venture”, Canada’s most comprehensive look at women in venture capital and angel investing. Reports of women’s involvement in the Canadian financial industry shows that Canada is among the world’s leader in female representation. However, compared to the amount of men starting new businesses, the amount of women involved in venture capital and angel investing is still staggeringly low.

Only 14 percent of all partners at Canadian venture firms are comprised of women, double the percentage of the top-100 American venture firms, while 84 percent of venture capital dollars are controlled by investment teams with no senior women. 84% of dollars committed to the country’s top funds are controlled by teams with no women general partners (GP). 72 percent of the dollars committed to funds are controlled by teams with no women partners. 67 percent of the dollars committed to funds are controlled by investment teams with no women GPs, partners, investment directors, or venture partners.

“While Canada is leading the conversation about women in entrepreneurship, we also need to consider who’s on the other side of the table,” said Lauren Robinson, Executive Director of Female Funders and COO at Highline BETA. “Deal flow often comes from pre-existing networks, which explains why when investment teams include women, they are more likely to invest in female entrepreneurs. Until we have women on both sides of the table—among both entrepreneurs and investors—we won’t see real change.”

To help blend workplaces, Female Funders will kick off its Summer 2018 Angel Academy. Participants will complete an eight-week blended learning program, and then continue to receive mentorship and support. Twelve firms–including iNovia Capital, OMERS Ventures, ScaleUp Ventures and Vanedge Capital–will participate as investor partners, hosting virtual office hours and providing mentorship to participants.

There is still much work be done in helping women gain access to capital. Investors, accelerators and policy makers will all have a role to play in changing the next wave of entrepreneurs in Canada.

So, how does one go about changing this reality? For starters, actively encouraging more women to pursue venture capital and creating clearer pathways for women into the industry. This can be achieved by providing better educational opportunities for investors, building a strong network of peers and role models, and creating unique opportunities for women to learn about careers in venture capital. This will, in time, bring out more of Canada’s potential women investors and angels.

The lack of representation from both sides is impeding social change in Canada. Investors, accelerators, and policy makers all have a role to play in driving change for the next generation of entrepreneurs, and for Canada.

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