Women angels unite to invest in women in Wales

More than 30 of Wales’ most successful female entrepreneurs and business leaders have united to form Women Angels of Wales (WAW), a new business angel investment syndicate for women led by lead investor Jill Jones.

It comes as the latest report by the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) suggests that despite female angel investors having helped drive more than £2bn of investment in companies across the UK in the past decade, women remain a minority in angel investment. This shortage of women angels has a direct impact because data shows that women are much more likely to invest in female-founded companies.

Facilitated by the Development Bank of Wales and Angels Invest Wales, WAW has been established to help support women in the early-stage investment community in Wales. As a syndicate, all deals will have access to the Wales Angel Co-investment Fund.

As lead investor, Jill Jones has a background in optometry and property. She is now an ESRC funded PhD student at Cardiff University Business School, an experienced business angel investor and passionate supporter of women in entrepreneurship. She said: “Women angels have a critical role to play in supporting female entrepreneurship. WAW is a women-led business angel investment syndicate, working in close partnership with the Development Bank of Wales and the wider business angel community in Wales and beyond. It is a friendly and supportive network which welcomes new and aspiring female investor members across Wales who are committed to supporting the Welsh economy and the creation of Welsh jobs.

“By encouraging more women to become angel investors, we give them the opportunity to support the businesses that matter to them and to create new sources of capital for innovative businesses. We offer a supportive approach to women as investors and to women as  founders who often get overlooked and underfunded.

“Importantly, this is not a networking forum. We want to enjoy using our collective experience, skills and resource  to make a difference to our environment, our society and our economy by inspiring and investing in female-led businesses.  Of course, angel investing does come with some risks but there are some great tax incentives that make it an attractive proposition.”

Jenny Tooth OBE, Executive Chair of the UK Business Angels Association and Co-Chair of the Women Angel Investment Task Force said: “Angel investment is an important element of equity finance for entrepreneurs at the start of their business growth journey, brining not only vital funding, but also business experience, advice, support and connections. However, the proportion of women angel investors is low and this limits the pool of equity capital available to support entrepreneurial growth.

“Our research and experience has shown that growing the number of women angels will directly increase the level of investment in female entrepreneurs.  To address this, we have launched the Women backing Women Campaign across the UK regions and Nations. We need syndicates like WAW to share the benefits of angel investing and help empower more women to bring their finance and experience to proactively back female founders.”

Carol Hall is Investment Manager for Angels Invest Wales. She said: “We need to encourage more women to invest so building the angel ecosystem in Wales is a priority for us.

“WAW is a syndicate of exceptionally talented and successful women business angels who are ambitious, agile and accessible. We know that angel investment works best when investors work together in syndicates to pool skills, share knowledge and balance risk. It generates more firepower, particularly as we can then use our equity co-investment fund to leverage syndicated deals.”

Members of WAW include: 

  • Ellen Donovan, an experienced non-executive director. She is a board member of the Welsh Government and a former board executive director of a FTSE 250 company.
  • Kate Methuen-Ley, an experienced non-executive director, committee member and executive director. She spent five years building a JV with well-known retailer in Wales & Bristol to 120 team members and +£5m annual turnover. She exited in 2018.
  • Sian Lloyd, freelance presenter and broadcaster who has spent the last 25 years presenting news, current affairs and factual programmes both in Wales and across the UK along with work for independent media companies.
  • Helen Molyneux, successful business woman who set-up and established NewLaw Legal before selling to a PLC. She is a well-regarded non-executive director, a founder of the Monumental Welsh Woman project and a trustee of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
  • Jackie Royall, chair, non-executive director, business mentor and investor.  Her career began in finance and progressed to CEO and vice president in manufacturing. She has run her own business scaling consultancy and was a turnaround practitioner for 16 years.

The £8 million Wales Angel Co-investment Fund provides Welsh businesses with a key source of alternative finance through the encouragement of more active angel investment. The five year fund supports the creation of angel syndicates and networks across Wales by providing loans and equity up to £250,000 to investors looking for co-investment.