Business women need to not only lead companies, but to own them

Why more women should become investors

My first post about learning and experiencing new things will actually be about something I did three weeks ago: I became a co-owner of a Norwegian startup.

This week I attended a conference called SheConference. The conference is all about highlighting women who are doing something exciting, whether it’s being an entrepreneur, a leader, a role model or an investor. This year’s topic was “Start the Change” where the focus was on trying to inspire women to become leaders or start their own companies. One of the key-note speakers highlighted another perspective: Women has to become investors and business owners if we want more women to become leaders and successful entrepreneurs.

The reality is harsh: In Norway, only 15% of the CEO’s of corporations are women. Only 18% of all board members are female. The speaker pointed out that for Norwegian startups, only 3% of all investments goes to female founders. This is an evil circle because, as most things in this world, we tend to relate more to things similar to ourselves. In other words, men and women tend to invest in persons of their own gender. It is obvious that when only 3% of all capital goes to female founders, there must be a lack of female investors as well. Actually only 14% percent of investors in Norway are female.

Why did I choose to invest in a startup?

I’m a founder who doesn’t take out any salary and I don’t have a lot of money to spend. But, after I became an entrepreneur myself I have seen how important it is to give back to this environment. I decided early on that if I ever have enough money, I’ll become an angel investor.

Some weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who is part of a Norwegian startup called Turtleneck. She told me that they had decided to run an equity crowdfunding campaign. This is relatively new but it means that anyone can put money into the company in return for shares. I was intrigued and decided to read up on Turtleneck and equity crowdfunding. I decided quite fast that I wanted to do this. Not only because I liked the concept behind Turtleneck but I just love it when women are involved in exciting startups. I didn’t invest a lot and I don’t own a ton of shares but who knows what they might be worth in 10 years. It’s far ahead but still it is exciting to think about. This is basically my lottery ticket.

At the SheConference the key-note speaker actually brought up an example where she had a friend who had invested only 5000 NOK in a Norwegian startup, but today her shares are worth 1.5 million NOK. So even small amounts can be worth a lot if the startup succeed.

Why is it important that more women invest?

Well, as every leader for a company knows, the owners are the ones with the power. If we want more women to become business leaders, women also need to own companies. More women owning companies will most likely mean more women as board members. With more female owners and board members the chance for more female CEOs will also increase. It can mean the end of that evil circle of men choosing men. Instead, we could work towards a 50/50 of men and women in top leadership positions.

Of course, becoming investors and board members won’t solve the issue of few female leaders. I also learned a lot about what we women are afraid of when it comes to our careers and what we could do in order to take that next step towards becoming a leader or building a business. I’ll write specifically about that later but I truly believe more women should spend some of their earnings on shares in startups or larger companies. It’s a great start for a change.