Why invest in her?

Written by yher Africa Regional Director, Katleho Tsoku

When we started working on the yher Africa Invest Pilot, I kept asking myself, ‘how is this going to make a real difference to women-led ventures?’. I believed we needed to be radical and change the system!

I recently read an article about women choosing to embrace mediocrity and divest from excellence. It argued that being excellent means ascribing to certain rules defined by someone else, and that now is the time to challenge the narrative and define what resonates with us.

It reads, “Excellence has gone from a way to dismantle structures that oppress us to upholding them. It’s not about whether we can be excellent, but about whether we should and at what cost. Mediocrity on the other hand is giving ourselves the freedom to rest, to play, to fail, to take a break”.

I found deep resonance with this article because I truly believe it is time we challenge the narrative of success for women entrepreneurs. The current expectations do not account for their lived experience.

As idealistic as it may sound, it was interesting to hear this sentiment shared by two female fund managers I spoke to recently. One said having more female fund managers doesn’t always translate into more capital for women-led ventures — because their standard is the same as any other investor — to bring in bankable businesses and returns.

The challenge is these ‘standards’ do not reflect the different playing field for women; the cultural barriers, legislation or child tax — the gender based decisions women are forced to make when they choose to start or have families.

The second fund manager said the very reason she decided to start her own gender-smart fund was because she defines the rules.

She explained the disconnect between how capital is deployed and the actual experience of women in building, managing and growing a business and how her fund is intentional about accommodating these experiences without sacrificing returns.

As I listened to these fund managers talk, I realised changing the system seems impossible. But, what is possible is how different players in the space — funders and intermediaries like ygap — are challenging the system.

It’s not about giving women entrepreneurs a seat at the funding table, but co-creating a funding table with them, in their likeness. This is how the yher Africa Invest pilot is different.

We invite you to come and co-create this funding table with us.

To learn more about our work with women entrepreneurs across Africa and the Pacific Islands, head to www.ygap.org

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ygap is an international organisation that creates positive change by making entrepreneurship more inclusive. www.ygap.org