The other day I had the pleasure of meeting an inspirational professor in entrepreneurship, Dr Virginia Cha, who is also an angel investor. Our conversation flowed from ideas about entrepreneurship and fintech to investing and women in tech. It was refreshing to meet another woman investor, particularly one in angel investing.
She told me that when she makes angel investments, the upsides are there, but she invests in money she can afford to lose. Her philosophy is that if she is investing money that would not affect her greatly if she lost it, it allows her to give more valuable advice to the company without thinking about the burden of the investment.
The conversation I had with her had me thinking about risk appetite and wealth management practices among women.
Why is it that investing $1000 in a pair of stilettos doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but investing $1000 in a growing business is very rare? If you invest your money in a startup, you run the risk of losing all of your money, but the chances of losing all $1000 is not automatically 100%- if the business had no potential, you wouldn’t be investing in it in the first place.
With the $1000 stilettos, sure, you will wear them a few times before the next hottest heels come out, but it they will never grow in value. And you will never get your money back.
With the startup, you are not only investing in the company’s product, but its people and mission. It is true that angel investing has high risk with low success rates. It is perhaps one of the riskiest forms of investments. However, I cannot help but ask myself: isn’t losing money in a venture still more rational than investing in a consumer item such as luxury shoes that create no value? Buying a bag is like sending your money away and never getting it back.
When I reflect back on my conversation with the professor, I had to remind myself that many times, women are not like her at all when it comes to money and investing. Why don’t we as women take more risks?
Women in Asia tend to be very conservative when it comes to investing. The most common form of investment is usually property, and many women hold onto cash. Few of us take our chances on the stock market, and even more rare are women who take on angel investing. AngelList conducted a study and found that out of all the investors on their database, only 7.4% were women.
Entrepreneur Cassandra Kelly made a strong point: “I think we need to hold up successful examples of companies that women have built. It is easier to see something when you can see role models that have done it before that look like you. It is also easier to invest in businesses when you have case studies to show that women are a good investment – at least as good as men.”
Empowering women to jump start their finances and increase their investments is the first step to achieving financial freedom. When it comes to angel investing, increasing women participation would also lead to increases in women entrepreneurs, as women will naturally want to help other women: female-led start ups.
In my case, conversations like these remind me of why I started my Miss Kaya, my own company offering a wealth management platform to help women manage their finances. Women, in general, are underserved in the finance space- but this can change and the first step is through education on investing. My passion and goals for Miss Kaya ultimately lie in helping other women, and financial empowerment is the first step to doing this.
And of course, buying yourself a nice pair of shoes every once in awhile is not a bad thing. But when it comes to managing your finances, focus on growth. Invest in value, invest in people, invest in ideas, and invest in yourself. Investing, particularly in the startup space, isn’t easy, but in the long-run with the right assistance, you can always find ways to make your money grow.
Gina Heng, founder of Miss Kaya and entrepreneur, noticed that the existing financial management services available sounded too complex, filled with jargon and hence too dull.
It is time for a change given the role women play in today’s world professionally and otherwise. Miss Kaya’s mission is to empower women and allow them to achieve financial freedom and live the lifestyles they want.