Female Fusion has partnered with Mindshift Capital, the UAE’s first gender lens venture fund, to stage an Investment Summit for women-led businesses, to help them explore and connect with the start-up and scaling finance options available in the UAE.
Bringing together female entrepreneurs with representatives from angel investors, venture capitalists, institutional funders, and debt financing organisations, the event introduced the range of funding opportunities for women-owned enterprises, provided guidance on the legal aspects from an expert in the field, and showcased stories of female-run businesses that had successfully secured capital to back their venture. The event also saw three entrepreneurs pitch their business to a panel of investment experts.
Opening the event, Female Fusion CEO, Jennifer Blandos revealed the significant gender gap that exists in terms of business investments, with just 2% of global venture capital funding going to women-led enterprises, and only 0.1% in the MENA region. She highlighted the need to grow awareness and build networks that would promote better access to finance for women in the future.
The audience of 40 invited female business owners went on to hear from Walid Faza, COO and Partner of MSA Capital, about the different stages of investment and the various opportunities that exist in the regional ecosystem. He explained some of the key indicators that investors would be looking for and encouraged entrepreneurs to look at all the options to find an investor that would represent a good fit for their business.
Speaking about the opportunities for debt financing towards business growth, Mark Griffiths from UAE lending platform, Beehive, described the mechanics of the different funding options and how to choose the right solution, depending on the stage and standing of the business. Concluding the morning session, the audience heard from Bianca Gracias of Crimson Legal about the importance of professional advice prior to signing funding agreements.
The event went on to hear from Heather Henyon, Founding Partner of Mindshift Capital and Founder of the Women’s Angel Investor Network (WAIN), the first and largest women’s angel group in the Middle East. In a fireside chat, Heather shared her extensive knowledge built on investing in over 200 start-ups and experience of gender-lens investment funding and the requirements for the different stages of investment, from pre-seed to series A. She stressed the importance of being investment-ready, with realistic plans in place, before approaching potential backers.
Offering first-hand insights of the investment journey, three female entrepreneurs shared their ‘Stories from the Trenches’ in a candid discussion on the challenges and opportunities of seeking investment as a woman-led business. Featuring Nadine Karadag, COO and Cofounder of Valeo; Simona Agolini, CEO & Cofounder of edutainment app Qidz; and Melis Abacioglu, CEO and Cofounder of employee wellbeing platform, Wellbees, the audience heard about the importance of valuing a business correctly and exploring all the options to find the right investor.
The event concluded with an investment pitch from three female entrepreneurs to a panel of Mindshift Capital team members Joumana Jallad, Barbara Baumgartner and Rona Shedid, alongside Grubtech CEO and cofounder Mohamed Al Fayed and MSA Capital’s Walid Faza. Entrepreneur Ivana Ogbu presented her newest business idea for a micro-lending platform, Finsworth. Already established in the market, Rihab Saab pitched for investment to scale her baby food business, Lil’ Tots. The final presentation came from Purvi Munot, who shared her business concept, Sav, a hyper-personalised money management platform.
Each of the entrepreneurs received coaching prior to the pitch and the three pitches provided an insightful and instructive session for business owners in the audience interested in raising funding for their companies. Assessed on their idea, business model, team, scalability, and sustainability, the entrepreneurs also received valuable feedback from the panel on how to take their enterprises to the next level.
Reflecting on the success of the event Jennifer Blandos said, “We held a powerful event to connect female entrepreneurs with investors and provide them with insights on making their businesses more investible. Our partnership with Heather Henyon and Mindshift Capital was pivotal, as they are leading the way in the region for investing in women-owned businesses. This is just the first of many events we plan to hold in the region to help women access the right networks and information to scale their businesses.”