Every year, I arrive at International Women’s Day feeling grateful. Grateful for the women who raised me (hear hear to great mothers and aunties); thankful to the women I get to laugh, fight and dance with; appreciative of the women I get to do business and work with; and so incredibly humbled by the women who came before, who made my life and pathway easier than theirs.
I work in social change, and have repeatedly watched the quiet doggedness of women working to make things better in their communities. And increasingly, louder voices calling for structural and systemic change that need to be acknowledged and brought into the light.
These past few years has been a personal journey of shifting from quietly and doggedly working to make things better, to being challenged to think bigger and speak louder.
Scale Collaborative works with impact organizations, to help them be financially resilient and scale models that work. We have developed programming, provided support and partnered with many to help realize this vision. And one of the significant gaps is access to capital that is flexible, willing to risk and arrives at the right time. We decided to launch an impact investment fund.
Impact investment is generating a lot of buzz, as people and organizations wake up to the pain their financial investments are causing in the world. I believe, after years of delivering programs and services to try and address societal problems, that moving money from extraction to regeneration is the fastest and most effective way to change the trajectory of our planet. That flowing the right kind of money towards enterprises and initiatives that paint a new picture, operate on new paradigms and whose ownership represents the communities we live in, is the fastest and most effective way of achieving equity, replacing problems with solutions and sunsetting practices that cause harm.
Because I have always worked in the social impact sector (which is stuffed full of women), I was caught a bit off guard as to how few women are leading investment funds:
- Roughly 90% of US and Canadian fund managers are male, while female led firms account for less than 1% of total assets under management.
This means less money being invested and directed by women, which might have something to do with who gets investment: only 3% of start up business investment goes to women owned businesses. And one thing we know for sure, women are 2x more likely to invest in female founders and 3x more likely to invest in female CEOs.
It feels exciting and daunting to step into this space. To be one of few women leading an investment fund. On this day of gratefulness, I want to shine a light on some of the women leaders who are laying the path:
- Wendy and Annabelle, Dragonfly Ventures, Ontario
- Jane Bisbee, Social Enterprise Fund, Edmonton
- Zita Cobb, Shorefast Community Finance Fund, Fogo Island
- Narinder Dhami, Marigold Capital, Ontario
- Sally Miller, Fair Finance Fund, Ontario
- Vicki Saunders, SheEO, All Over
- Alexa Blain, Deetken Impact, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean
In October 2020, Women in VC released a report on ‘The Untapped Potential of Women Led Funds’. The report reiterates the challenge and makes the case that women led funds present an opportunity to bring amazing and oft-overlooked ideas to fruition and success.
The best part of the report is their recommendations to investors or anyone who has money invested:
- Do a diversity audit of the managers in your portfolio. How are you doing?
- If you are an accredited investor, look for and invest in women led funds. Write the cheque.
- Make connections to groups and high net-worth individuals that are prepared to write the cheque.
With gratefulness, Happy International Women’s Day.
Kristi Fairholm Mader
Kristi Fairholm Mader and Kristi Rivait are leading the development and launch of Thrive Impact Fund, an impact-first, place based fund on Vancouver Island, set to launch summer 2021.