“Most female angel investors are currently, or have been, founders of a startup. So, I believe that having female venture capitalists and angel investors onboard positively impacts the investment process, because they have walked in our proverbial shoes and they understand how we think, what we need and how to give it to us. By increasing the number of women in the sphere of investment, I believe that the number of investment funds founded and staffed by female investors in the region will increase. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are very few well-known female-run investment funds in the MENA. However, over time, I know that this will change. Thus, providing Arab female entrepreneurs with more financing options and eliminating the need to seek investment abroad.” Rola Fayyad, Founder and CEO of Jordan-based startup Friendture.
A recent survey of more than 220 early stage digital startups based in the UK revealed “that male entrepreneurs are 86% more likely to be VC funded than their female counterparts and men were 59% more likely to secure angel investment.” To make matters worse, only 6% of global VC partners are women1, leaving female entrepreneurs at a considerable disadvantage. Especially in the MENA region, where the legal, cultural and economic barriers are numerous. Thus, making the presence of “home-grown” female angel investors and VCs even more vital.
What are the two main benefits of having more female investors in the MENA region?
Firstly, the more angel investors there are, the more angel investor dollars there will be. So, by encouraging more women in the MENA region to join the investment scene, we will increase the amount of financing available to entrepreneurs in the Arab world.
Secondly, by increasing the number of “home-grown” female investors and investment funds, we can unleash more of the amazing talent and knowledge that is hidden in the region’s women.
So the question remains, what can we do in the MENA region to promote “female investment?”
- Turn the Spotlight on our Boss Ladies
Outside of lists such as Arabian Business’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women2 it can be difficult to find literature that highlights women’s contributions within various industries in the MENA- especially in the field of investment. While some link this lack of recognition to the Arab world’s conservative attitudes towards female participation in the public sphere, others link it to women’s general lack of need to receive public acknowledgment for their contributions. Either way, we believe that there should be more platforms that inspire women in the region to aspire to greatness. In an effort to do just that, we established “Women Crush Wednesday” on our Instagram account to highlight and celebrate some of the world’s most awesome boss ladies and their accomplishments.
- Promote Financial Education for Entrepreneurial Domination
One of WOMENA’s main missions is to educate female investors on how they can invest their angel dollars in MENA-based startups. By hosting investment workshops, webinars and events, WOMENA aims to build a base of empowered female angel investors in the Arab world, who can effectively invest their capital in the region. However, the Arab world still needs more institutions to craft educational programs to help female startup founders develop the strategies that they need to navigate, and overcome, some of the deeply entrenched gender-biases that prevent them from accessing the capital that they need to survive.