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Female angels urged to match US counterparts

Jackie Waring 2Women attending an investor conference in Edinburgh today will be urged to emulate their counterparts in America where one in four angel investors are female.

In Scotland that figure is closer to 1 in 20, but Jackie Waring (pictured), chief executive of Investing Women, believes the gap can be narrowed over the next five years.

She will tell those attending the two-day Ambition & Growth conference at Dynamic Earth that her group’s ambition is to help increase Scotland’s female angels from an estimated 60 to 300.

This would match the female representation already achieved in the US, and in the process giving the Scottish economy a significant boost.

Recent research on behalf of veteran Archangels Investors group found that every £1 of investment it had created since its foundation in 1992 had generated the equivalent of £14 in turnover, equating to a £1.3 billion uplift to the economy.

Ms Waring said: “If we can get close to the US level of female investors, the additional investment generated could be worth £140 million per year to the economy.

“Investing Women aims to improve awareness amongst women and remove some of the barriers and misconceptions surrounding angel investment. One of those misconceptions is that you need to be a multi-millionaire to become an angel which simply isn’t true.

Update and photos from the event here

“Understanding risk is key and we recognise that everyone has their own risk tolerance level, but many women we’ve spoken to find angel investment an attractive proposition where they love working with the dynamic entrepreneurs whilst having their money working harder for them, especially with Government tax incentives which mitigates the investment risk.”

More than 200 delegates will attend the event, but the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was due to host a dinner at the Castle, has pulled out. It is thought that “government business” will prevent her returning to the city in time. Her place will be taken by Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women Employment.

Susan PrestonSusan Preston (right), an internationally recognised speaker on global economic development, is one of the headline speakers.

Ms Preston, the founder of the world’s first ever all-women angel investment syndicate, Seraph Capital Forum, is often described in the US as the First Lady of Women Angels. She is managing partner of the Seattle Angel Fund.

She is expected to provide a progress report on female investment syndicates which are still new to the UK.

In a pre-conference statement, she said: “In the past ten years we have seen a slow increase in the number of women entrepreneurs receiving funding, and I strongly believe it is because of the significant increase in angel groups specifically focused on investing in women.”

Other speakers include FanDuel co-founder Lesley Eccles, and Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise.

A vocal campaigner for women in business, Ms Preston was last year awarded the US Women of Valour award, presented by Vice President Joe Biden. She also leads Women First Enterprise, which develops programmes to address the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and encourages women’s participation in high-growth businesses and start-ups.

Also taking the stage at the two-day conference are Mei Shui, managing director of Virgin Start-Up; Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University; and MSP Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment.

The winner of a pitching competition will be announced tonight from among six entrepreneurs.

Investing Women’s AccelerateHer event attracted more than 100 entries and the winner will be announced by Scottish Government Minister Annabelle Ewing at Edinburgh Castle.

Jackie Waring and AcceleratHER

Those shortlisted (above) are (with Jackie Waring, centre): online booking and management specialist Appointedd, Edinburgh-based French macaron maker Mademoiselle Macaron, personal attack alarm designer Pick Protection, online development leadership company InclusIQ, dementia app company MindMate, and Borders based FINDRA which designs performance lifestyle outdoor clothing.

The winner will receive vital assistance in taking their business idea to the next level with a package which includes a £5,000 cash prize, accountancy and legal support, and mentoring assistance from established business angels.

Update and photos from today’s events here

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