The Barriers Faced by Women Angels & How We’re Addressing Them

International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s social, political, economical and cultural achievements worldwide, and also recognise the need to continually push for gender equality. This day shines light on many sectors, all of which call for increased diversity and equal opportunity. In the UK Angel Investment landscape we know there is a distinct lack of female Angel Investors, which is something that we are actively working towards addressing and rectifying. The first piece of the puzzle is to identify what barriers are standing in the way of more women Angel Investing and how exactly we can shift this. UKBAA has done extensive research on the Angel Investment Ecosystem to understand where women fit into the framework, why the space taken up by women is so small and what next steps need to be taken to balance the landscape.

In our research, we came across some profound data that indicates that not only do women lack an understanding of what Angel Investing, they are also not advised that it is even an investment option by their financial advisers. An overwhelming 96% of the women interviewed in our research stated that they were only presented with stocks, shares, pension funds, bonds and property. Of the women that were informed of Angel Investing, only 14% were advised about relevant tax breaks or funds enabling them to invest. Beyond lack of knowledge or access to resources, many women stated that they were either intimated by the male dominated Angel Groups, or that they felt they have a role as a mother and taking on a perceived risky investment would reflect poorly on them. These, among many other factors for women not being more involved in Angel Investing is something that we seek to remedy.

As a part of our ongoing commitment to Women Angels, UKBAA will be highlighting a weekly news feature focused on Women in Investing. We will look at celebrating successes, creating education and access to information, highlighting women’s events, and most importantly, sharing our research with you so that you can help us take a step in the right direction and balance this ecosystem. One of our first initiatives is to highlight the Women in our network that not only standout as key players in the UK Angel Investing landscape as a whole, but are also paving the way for gender equality among Angels through their successes.

Today we celebrate our top 10 Women Angels:
1) Meganne Houghton-Berry – UKBAA Angel of the Year 2017/18
2) Sherry Coutu CBE
3) Eileen Burbidge
4) Wendy Tan White MBE
5) Debbie Wosskow OBE
6) Sarah Turner
7) Helen Oldham
8) Rachel Hannan
9) Jordan Dargue
10) Sanja Moll

In honour of International Women’s Day 2018, we asked UKBAA Angel Investor of the Year, Meganne Houghton-Berry some key questions on the barriers to Women in Angel Investing and her advice to those starting out.

Q:What is your motivation behind Angel Investing?
A:While of course I hope each of my investments will have a positive exit, I also angel invest because I enjoy the interaction with entrepreneurs who are passionate about building their business and making a difference in
the world. I do have a lot of investments, and while I am more active with some than others, I always try to make myself available to the team to help as a sounding board or provide feedback and introductions.

Q: What impact do Angels have on the growth of the business they invest in, and do you feel that women can offer something different/unique?
A: I believe angel investing is not just about the money but being a support for the team as they build the business. My own professional background is product marketing, but it is more often my general business experience and investing experience that prove useful in the early days for the startups I’m involved in. I think women tend to underestimate their own value to a start-up, but once they actually spend time with entrepreneurs they’ll realise there is much from their own professional background, and just life experiences, that can help young teams along what is always a challenging journey.

Q: Do you feel women need to navigate the investment environment differently than men? If so, can you provide advice to women new to Angel Investing?
A: I think anyone new to angel investing would do well to join an angel group or two to get experience and confidence in selecting investments and learning about the terms of deals, what diligence means etc. There are a wide range of angel groups, including increasingly ones with a high proportion of female investors, so do your research and find groups that you find welcoming and who focus on industries you find interesting.

Q: In your experience, what barriers prevent more women from Angel Investing?
A: I think lack of awareness of angel investing as an asset class, and lack of confidence in making investments. That isn’t to say angel investing is for everyone. You have to assume many of your investments will fail, and those that do succeed can take a long time to come to fruition.

Q: What would you like to see done to help more women get involved and diversify the investment landscape?
A: There are a growing number of angel groups focused on women investors – such as Angel Academe that offers an Investor training seminar – which are a good starting point. I also think mentoring is a great way to start learning about the challenges of growing a business, so looking for opportunities to provide mentoring to young entrepreneurs is another way to start getting involved.


If you would like to hear more about our research, please reach out katryn.wales@ukbaa.org.uk and let us know! We will be celebrating women weekly in this ongoing news series and are delighted to provide you with more data and action items we plan to put into motion.

By UKBAA 07 Mar 2018