Angels to take women under their wings

By Lesley Springall

Bridget Liddell wants to see more capital available for fledgling businesses run by women.
Bridget Liddell wants to see more capital available for fledgling businesses run by women.

A woman-only angel investment group is being launched in Auckland and Wellington this month to boost the number of early-stage investors in New Zealand and provide more capital for fledgling businesses run by women.

ArcAngels is the brainchild of Kiwi expat and supporter of start-up Kiwi companies Bridget Liddell, a senior partner with US investment firm 212 Equity and a participant in a women-focused US angel group, Golden Seeds.

Liddell, who will chair the new group, says evidence shows female entrepreneurs and investors don't seek capital from, or join, traditionally male-dominated angel groups.

"Entering the investment world is quite new for a lot of women, so there's a level of support and education that [women entrepreneurs and investors] want and that's evident from the Golden Seeds," Liddell says.

"Men may be more transactional, women look for something a little more holistic, a bit more multi-dimensional.

So we think we can enhance things a bit."

A big drawcard for the Golden Seeds is the club-like atmosphere it creates, she says.

"It becomes a good group of friends, people who like to share ideas and get a lot of pleasure from helping young entrepreneurs, so it becomes a community of like-minded people as well as a successful investment group."

Liddell dismisses any comparison with the investment clubs of the late 80s and early 90s.

"A share club implies a whole lot of glasses of wine and having a lot of fun. There is that, of course, but you are putting significant capital at risk and you are supporting young women entrepreneurs, so it's not a trivial thing at all," she says.

"The entrepreneurs will rely on us, we will put people on their board and we will be participating in their company on an ongoing basis for many years. That's very serious."

Liddell hopes to attract more than 40 dedicated female angels by the end of the group's first year.

In the US, Golden Seeds is the fourth-largest angel investment organisation, with more than 280 members and investing US$58 million in 58 companies since 2005. Australians have also got in on the act, setting up the Scale group in March this year.

ArcAngels will be launched in Auckland on October 22 and in Wellington early next month. Its steering group includes Sarah Kennedy, vice-president international farming, for Fonterra; Cecilia Tarrant, a Fletcher Building director; and lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Kate O'Leary.

- NZ Herald

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