Women backed

Equity Gap tops angel investment in female firms

Rhona Bree and Fraser Lusty of Equity Gap (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Equity Gap, the Edinburgh-based angel investment syndicate, has been named the most frequent backer of women-owned businesses in Scotland.

Between 2018 and 2023, Equity Gap backed 12 equity investment rounds in female-led businesses – 30% of the total rounds during this period.

The Young Company Finance Diversity Data Report highlights the continuing disparity in investment for women-owned businesses in Scotland. In 2023, 5.4% of total funding rounds went to women-led businesses, and female entrepreneurs secured only 2.6p of every £1 of funding.

Equity Gap is a signatory to the Investing in Women Code and champions an inclusive environment for investors and entrepreneurs, removing potential gender bias across the investment process.

It says this has allowed more women to participate both as investors and founders. To date, Equity Gap members have invested over £6m directly into 13 female-led companies, leveraging £40m of total funding for these businesses. It says that if other Scottish investors adopted this approach, it could give female-led companies access to ten times more funding.

Equity Gap’s recent investments in female-led businesses include My SMASH Media, the AI matchmaking platform for the creative industries, and global drug research firm Cytochroma. Existing portfolio companies supported during the period include digital booking solution Appointedd and hydrogen vehicle specialist ULEMCo.

Commenting on the report, Fraser Lusty, managing director at Equity Gap, said: “The new YCF report confirms our long-held conviction that Equity Gap is at the forefront of investing in and adding value to women-led businesses.

“Our investment process is designed to be member-led, inclusive and accessible, allowing members to find the best early-stage investment opportunities. There is no investment committee or screening process where individual biases might creep in, which is very different to institutional investors.

“Equity Gap is proud to have supported more than 75 women investors, achieved gender diversity within our board and operating team, and is a long-standing signatory of the Investing in Women code. We look forward to working with more women-owned businesses to inject critical early-stage investment.”

Alison Grieve, editor at Young Company Finance, said: “YCF has been tracking funding going into startups and scale-ups in Scotland for over 25 years.  We felt a responsibility to analyse that data through the lens of diversity, specifically the individuals who own and control these companies. 

“Although the overall results revealed continuing disparities in funding allocation, it was encouraging to discover that Equity Gap was the most frequent backer of women-owned businesses, as a member-led group of investors that has been backing women-owned businesses from its first year of formation.”

Investment summit

More than 60 female potential and experienced angels and business owners gathered at the RBS HQ yesterday to learn and share experience of the opportunities to invest in early-stage companies in Scotland.

Gillian Fleming, co-founder of Mint Ventures, said: “Research has shown that women led and diverse businesses deliver more sustainability and profitability.

“It is our mission to educate and inform women that they too can be part of the success story by supporting more women led companies in the often over looked sectors where women are more likely to have start-up businesses.”

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