Following the release of a women-focused federal budget last week, and International Women’s Day yesterday, I’ve been reflecting on my work in supporting female entrepreneurs and investors in Canada -- the progress we’ve made and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Reframing the Investor Identity
Identifying as an entrepreneur comes easily to me. I started my first company at the age of 26, grew it and then sold it. Since then I have been actively supporting entrepreneurs across Canada in my roles as a non-profit leader at the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Futurpreneur Canada.
As an investor, the identity didn’t fit quite as seamlessly. I made my first investment three years ago into a private fund,Pique Fund, with a focus on funding early stage women-led technology companies. When first approached, I immediately thought “I am not an investor”. I loved what Pique Fund was doing, and wanted to support. But my idea of support was to provide mentorship and coaching, or to help promote to my networks.
This changed once I was walked through the process and understood the risks, but also the opportunity to invest in an initiative I truly believed in. I wrote my first cheque from my RRSP and it felt great! I had educated myself and was aware of the risks, and I was joining a community of investors who also believed in new models and inclusive innovation.
An Investment Platform for Everyone
Following that first investment, I learned about FrontFundr, an online investment crowdfunding platform connecting early stage companies with the Canadians who want to make change through their investments. I joined FrontFundr as Chief Growth Officer at the end of 2015 and it has been incredible journey educating entrepreneurs on a new way of funding. Finance combined with technology creates a powerful tool with the capacity to increase diversity in the finance sector. We are seeing more women access capital. In fact, one-third of the companies funded on FrontFundr have been women-led versus the less than 4% of venture capital received by women
“It is clear that crowdfunding is leading the way in changing the trend of the male-dominated world of finance and that is to be welcomed and celebrated.”
- Goncalode Vasconcelos, forbes.com
What’s been especially powerful, is introducing women to types of investment opportunities they could not previously access. As an investment crowdfunding platform, FrontFundr provides access to early and growth stage opportunities that were previously the domain of (predominantly male) angel investors and venture capitalists.
A range of investment sizes
Investment sizes on FrontFundr range from $250 to $500,000 enabling each individual to participate in a way that makes sense to them and their resources.
Companies making change
Women want to make investments in companies we believe in. On FrontFundr, change-making companies can find access to capital and avoid the “valley of death” that’s plagued many Canadian entrepreneurs.
A simplified process
The whole process of making an investment on FrontFundr takes about 10 minutes and our team is there to support any questions.
What the Future Holds
FrontFundr is creating an inclusive, accessible and modern model with a goal of unlocking more capital for entrepreneurs across Canada and changing the face of investors. We have recently listed FrontFundr on FrontFundr so we can raise funds for our own growth. It’s our second time raising capital on our own platform. Our first raise had 30% female investors, higher than the average of 20% (1).
We aim to have women represent 50% of our total investor community after this raise. With over $500,000 currently committed, we are tracking close to 30%.