This spring the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation published "A Rising Tide: Financing Strategies for Women-Owned Firms," by Susan Coleman and Alicia Robb. For me their research was a clear call to action.
Based upon the Kauffman Firm Survey data, they found that -
"Men raised 27 times more equity from outsiders during the first year of operation!" (punctuation by authors.)
This was shocking to me. How were women intending to compete in a market where their competition may have 27 times the capital - in year one alone?! It simply cannot be done.
I am frequently asked about the dearth of women entrepreneurs - but I think we are asking the wrong question. In fact, Coleman & Robb found an increasing number of women were starting and succeeding in high-growth firms. They also noted that women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men - but they are doing it without the necessary money to win!
What we need to be asking is - why aren't women playing big?
We know from the same research that:
- Women were NOT more risk averse than men
- Women were less likely to seek angel funding than men, nevertheless women who did seek angel funding had an equal likelihood of receiving it
- Women were more likely to seek and receive funding from women angel investors
- Women have the capacity to learn how to raise equity investment
So here is the Astia response!
Astia intends to add capital to our mix. Starting in early 2013, you will see the launch of an Astia Fund and an Astia Angel network.
This response is not only based on the Kauffman research but by listening to you - the Astia community, the Board of Trustees, the Global Advisory Board, and of course, the Astia companies.
The Astia Fund will be a fund used to invest in the best-of-breed companies from the Astia program.
Astia Angel will be a network of individual investors, also committed to investing in the best-of-breed Astia companies.
Both the Fund and the Angel group will pursue above-market investor returns and both are committed to the model of investing in select companies who are sourced, screened and selected by you - the Astia community. We will continue to be committed to increasing the number of women-led companies raising capital via the Astia Global Entrepreneur Program together with the generous engagement of our 2000+ Astia Advisors around the globe. Essentially we are taking what we have been perfecting for the past 13 years - and that which has produced a greater than 60% funding success rate for the companies selected - and adding our own capital to the mix.
And you can join our call to action! Men and women in the Astia community are invited and encouraged to participate. Contact me directly [firstname.lastname@example.org] to discuss the Fund and for Astia Angel contact Amy Gips [email@example.com], Founding Managing Partner, Astia Angel.
You can expect to hear more from us as we solidify the opportunity that these present to entrepreneurs, investors and the Astia community.
Sharon Vosmek, CEO