Business angels: a male thing?

Kate Dunn asks why female business angels remain rare

To paraphrase a popular ditty (less poetically but more pertinently), where have all the female business angels gone?

In fact the question should be: where the heck were they to start with? More than 95% of the UK’s business angels are men, peculiarly – peculiar since long gone are the days when the millionaires of this world wore beards and top hats, and we’re even past the dismal age when the females of the species received riches only in the regrettable circumstances of divorce or death.

Indeed, the number of female entrepreneurs has been creeping up for decades, and both men and women are reaping financial rewards of entrepreneurial endeavour and subsequent success. Many of them get to this point with the benevolent interest of a kindly business angel. Or at least, with the funding provided by the savvy business sense of a entrepreneurial high flier.

However, if the female business owner is now frequently sighted, the women business angel is, alas, still something of an endangered species. This has real ramifications. Female-owned start-ups still receive on average a third less start up funding than male-owned firms.

There is a belief that if there were more visible female business angels, then women entrepreneurs would be more likely to approach them for funding. There are now increasing efforts to balance this disparity, with schemes such as ‘Women investing in Women’ by Finance South East, encouraging females to think about popping on their halos and becoming angels. Let’s hope the numbers in the heavenly chorus are soon swelled with Gabriellas as well as Gabriels, and that we stop the angel jokes immediately.

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