A group of 25 women have formed an Okanagan-based investment fund to focus on correcting the gender imbalance faced by female entrepreneurs when seeking investment and increase the number of women who are active start-up company investors.
To mark International Women’s Day, the Okanagan Women’s Mentoring and Angel Network (WMAN) is accepting applications from female-founded, led or co-led businesses within the region.
Co-founder and general partner Camille Saltman said the goal is to increase the number of women angel investors, remedy the gender gap in start-up funding and aid women business owners who bear the brunt of economic fallout from the pandemic.
Okanagan WMAN is part of the Women’s Equity Lab (WEL), founded in Victoria in 2017. Women’s Equity Lab’s (WEL) mission is to increase equal gender opportunity in the area of early-stage investing. There have been three funds launched under the WEL banner in Victoria since 2017 and one in Vancouver in 2020.
Saltman was inspired to create the group following her experience with colleague Sarah Sutherland building the Entrepreneurship@UBCO mentorship program.
According to Saltman, once completing the program, women-led start-ups still struggled to obtain investment.
“Starting a business can be daunting, but having access to funding and mentorship through the collective experience of more than 20 successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs will make a big difference for early-stage start-ups in the Okanagan region,” she said. “I believe our focus on female founders and leaders will not only help to level the playing field but lead to more game-changing ideas making it to market and an increase in women-led business in general.”
In the WEL model, partners in the investment round meet regularly to learn how to invest in companies, discuss opportunities, vet deal flow and make investment decisions. In the Okanagan, each participant will invest $5,500 for a pool of almost $140,000, which is then used to co-invest in companies the group thinks will generate the best return.
Funding applications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org