In case you missed it (ICYMI)
As we start to emerge from our home/office bubble and get back to some kind of normal, we’re probably starting to ask ourselves what we’ve learned and whether we’ll start to do things differently now? For founders, that might present as a product or service pivot or even diversification in some way or another but what about investors? Will this period of confinement change the way they look at investing? Probably, yes.
Investor mindset shift
In case you missed it, there was a really positive piece by Forbes* this week about this very topic. Broadly, it was about supporting diversity in the workplace as a tool to economic recovery but beyond this, they talked about practical revelations that should impact on investor thinking.
First up, this gem from Angelica Krystle Donati from London-based VC, Concrete. She notes that women-led businesses are often smaller in size and therefore have less established banking relationships and as a result, are less creditworthy. That hasn’t changed during Covid. But, now that everyone has been forced to work from home and coordinate professional responsibilities with domestic ones there’s perhaps more of an appreciation of the female founder’s plight. On a practical level that means developing a new perspective around the daily juggle, solitary work, and isolation. On a psychological level, it’s about appreciating creativity and resilience and being receptive to change – something founders know all too well.
Of course, we may not see that changing of perspectives happen overnight but it could help speed things up and in the very year we’ve been told to go slow. Wouldn’t that be a welcome irony?
Reducing bias through online lending
Another positive development this week has been talk of online lending* as a way to bridge the gender lending gap. As it stands, in the U.S. women get approved for loan amounts that are a third less than male applicants. But without that face-to-face meeting or in-person pitch, suddenly some of that gender bias disappears. Assessors can then just get on with the job of looking at the numbers; how the operator is running the business and managing cash flow etc. If the decisions are made on operational efficiency and planning we may see an uptick in the number of female founders being funded. Again, probably not overnight but getting funding is a long game after all.
Grant applications skyrocket
Speaking of funding, thousands of you in Hong Kong have been applying for the D-Biz government grant. Here at Next Chapter Raise, we’ve been really pushing our members and followers to apply for this and the other grants that have been made available during this Covid-19 crisis. One of our members Polly told us it only took 15 minutes to apply for the ESS or Employee Support Scheme grant. All she needed to prepare was the MPF trustee name, MPF registration/scheme number and a copy of her latest bank statement. That sounds like a very easy HK$7500.
Getting funded with family and friends
If you’re in the idea stage of developing your business, you may have been using this isolation time to write a business plan and flesh out your offering and/or build an MVP. Now is the time to then think about funding. One of the ways to achieve this is via a family and friends* investment. In case you missed it, Next Chapter published a must-read list of the pros and cons of this type of investment option. It includes how and what to ask, what happens when things go wrong and how to avoid pitfalls.
Fighting fairness in Asia
Now, if you’re looking for a healthy dose of inspiration this week, check out a recent piece by Tatler on women fighting for fairness in Asia. It features artists, authors, activists, business leaders and entrepreneurs who are all working to create a more level playing field. Among them is Olivia Cotes-James, the founder of Luuna who we’ll be profiling later this month. Her incredible work in producing safe and affordable menstrual products while also teaching girls across Asia about an often taboo subject is remarkable.
So that’s a quick look at some of the news making headlines this week. Remember, if you’re doing something newsworthy, tell us about it. We’re looking for stories of female founders who are working hard to build their businesses and get funded. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Family and friends article