New research documenting the experiences of female entrepreneurs in New Zealand as they try to raise capital show a range of challenges that could be easily fixed.
Raising Capital in Aotearoa New Zealand: Insights From Women Entrepreneurs by University of Auckland Business School researcher Dr Janine Swail, outlines the insights and experiences of 26 women.
The study focused on three key areas: what women want (from their entrepreneurial ecosystems); what they experience in the process of trying to raise capital and what we don’t talk about; the often ignored sphere of household and home life.
And the best investment male partners could make is supporting them in sorting out the household. A recent Kiwi support found that if men contributed more at home, it would boost the economy by NZ$1.5 billion.
That’s because women tend to carry what’s known as the ‘cognitive load’ of households: taking responsibility for forward planning, healthcare and education for the kids, balancing the household budget and other stressful planning tasks.
Dr Swail said many women reported having to negotiate conflicting identities, laden with gender role expectations.
“Entrepreneurship ecosystems cast the domestic sphere as wholly separate and do not recognise the interplay of household dynamics on the business ownership experience,” he said.
“We need to talk more openly about women’s entrepreneurial experiences and address the challenges.”
The Raising Capital report explored the expectations women have towards prospective investors, and revealed that company fit and value alignment were of paramount importance, followed by the requirement for investors to contribute networks and knowledge.
Good fit was assessed in terms of investor knowledge, reputation, and degree of involvement.
Women entrepreneurs also expressed a desire for more diverse investors.
What women experience explored the more gendered encounters women had on the way to raising capital and reflected on the strategies used to overcome the challenges bias can present.
For instance, women who had a male co-founder or business partner commented how during introductory investor meetings, some investors would direct their conversation towards their male colleagues, assuming that the women were not founders or decision-makers.
Among the women entrepreneurs, strategies for dealing with bias ranged from accepting it existed and simply getting on with it, to openly addressing it.
Download Dr Swail’s Raising Capital in Aotearoa New Zealand: Insights From Women Entrepreneurs