Navigating the capital-raising environment is especially challenging for women. But the investing community and the startup ecosystem can benefit from a two-pronged approach: advocacy and intentionality.

This was the statement of Tina Nepomuceno-Di Cicco, the Gender Lens Investing Committee Chairperson of Manila Angel Investors Network (MAIN), the Philippine’s largest network of angel investors, in the recently concluded FoundHer Forum, organized by a Filipino-based women-led inclusion studio, Imaginable Impact at KMC One Ayala in line with Women’s Month.

In her keynote speech, Di Cicco highlighted that advocating for and intentionally supporting women-led businesses will encourage more women to succeed and attract and grow investments.

“Through advocacy, we communicate our vision and goals, as well as promote and support each other’s businesses. Intentionality, on the other hand, is when we turn our advocacy into action–it’s when we put our resources into investing in women and helping make women-led businesses succeed,” Di Cicco said, sharing tips on how women can appear more investible. 

In addition, she noted that while the gender gap remains a pressing issue with only 2% of global venture capital funds going to women-led businesses, investments on women entrepreneurs are in fact growing in Southeast Asia with data indicating that female-led startups raised $1.41 billion in equity funding in 2023, which accounts for 18 percent of capital raised in the region. This is a 12.6 percent increase from the previous year.

Di Cicco also pointed out that the current trend indicates that more investors and networks are using Gender Lens Investing when considering startups to invest in and support. Gender Lens Investing (GLI) is a strategy that MAIN employs, through the support of the Australian Aid’s Investing in Women program, to maximize investment potential in women-led businesses. Through the GLI, MAIN provides extensive support to women-led startups, especially those at the early stage, in terms of capital allocation, training, and mentorship. To date, more than 40% of the startups that MAIN members have invested in are female-led.

“We are hearing investors prioritizing portfolio diversity, with many incorporating gender lens investing strategies. What we see across the board is a slow but steady increase in gender lens investing,” Di Cicco said, underscoring investors’ intent to address gender disparity through their investment choices.

“This is the time for women founders. We are being sought. We are more visible. There is no better time to be a woman than now,” Di Cicco added.

The FoundHer Forum is a signature event series elevating the conversation on investing in female founders, to bridge the capital gap for women in the startup ecosystem. Aside from MAIN, FoundHer Forum was made possible in partnership with KMC Solutions, a leading provider of flexible office space requirements and co-working space for emerging businesses in the Philippines.

Aside from supporting women-led businesses, MAIN, composed of more than 120 angel investors, aims to increase the number of female investors in the Philippines by diversifying their own membership. MAIN is also a member of the Gender Lens & Impact Investment Council (GIIC), a member-based industry body that seeks to build the gender lens and impact investment ecosystem in the Philippines.

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