As part of a series of activities scheduled to celebrate International Women’s Month, Innovation Support Network would be hosting a Meet the Funders session specifically targeted at promoting Gender Lens Investing. Gender Lens Investing factors financial results as well as gender-based benefits into investment decisions for a variety of reasons including reducing risk on returns, reducing gender economic and funding gaps, as well as creating more inclusive products and services.
Investing in women-led businesses is generally good business – a study of firms with more women in senior positions showed that they achieved significantly higher returns and that gender-diverse boards usually created more long-term value for organisations including less stock price volatility. In Nigeria, funding firms like Alitheia Capital, Rising Tide Network, and the Lagos Angel Network have all developed extensive Gender Lens investing theses to achieve financial returns while also actively catalyzing women-owned businesses with much-needed capital and support thereby increasing socio-economic and financial benefits.
To reduce the access gap between startups and funders, Innovation Support Network (ISN Hubs), an organisation focused on creating linkages with corporates, development partners, academia and government to holistically support Nigeria’s innovation ecosystem, has curated a series of sessions called Meet the Funders. These sessions enable funders to share their investment theses with startups, thereby providing clarity on requirements for engagement. In line with International Women’s Month, ISN Hubs is hosting Tokunboh Ishmael of Alitheia Capital, Bunmi Lawson of Lagos Angel Network and Oby Ugboma of Rising Tide to a Meet the Funders session focused on Promoting Inclusion in Entrepreneurship through Gender Lens Investing. According to Bunmi Lawson, ‘There is roughly a 10% gender gap in Nigeria when it comes to access to funds. Gender lens investing ensures financial product designs that allow more women to access the funding that they require for their businesses.’
Nneka Ukay, Executive Secretary of Innovation Support Network said regarding the event “We are hosting the Meet the Funders series to lift the veil over what funders are looking for thereby improving the quality of deal flows in the Nigerian innovation ecosystem. For the IWD-themed event, we want to specifically shed more light on Gender Lens Investing and how we can use it to leapfrog early and growth-stage businesses that are women-led. We want to actively grow the number of funded Nigerian startups in general, and women-led startups in particular”.
The session would hold virtually on March 23 by 5pm and featured speakers would also advise their investment thesis thereby making it easier for startups to strategically align to the requirements of their preferred funder. The Meet the Funders sessions are a precursor to the ISN Hubs Demo Day scheduled for September 2021 where startups from across the country would be able to pitch virtually to their preferred funders based on the previously advised investment thesis.