Want to support female-led businesses, or learn how to better manage your money? Mama of two Tanya Rolfe describes the origins of the Ladies Investment Club
The facts speak for themselves, female founders are less likely to secure funding and only 3% of VC funded start-ups have a female CEO. We want to redress some of this imbalance.
When I arrived in Singapore with my husband and two small children last year, I knew I wanted a break from big corporate law firms. I also knew I wanted to work in Singapore, but I wanted to control my hours and my time. I wasn’t ready to give up my precious time with my baby and toddler.
I reached out to my entire network – which wasn’t that many people given I had just arrived from London. My first call out was to the Sentosa mums group that I was part of. I asked for women that wanted to do a joint venture of some sorts. I didn’t really know what! At the same time this was happening, I made my first personal investment in a nightclub in Singapore through a contact of my husband – this wasn’t in my plans at all but I loved it.
Eventually, it dawned on me that I could invest in more businesses; why not see if others wanted to do it with me to make it more fun. It was slow and it was hard going but eventually, I got some interest and from there it grew.
So what is L.I.C.?
The Ladies Investment Club (L.I.C.) is an all-female investment club set up to support female entrepreneurs. L.I.C invests in early stage businesses and provides business support as well as financial backing.
How much capital do I need to invest?
As little or as much as you feel comfortable with. Each investment is different, with different members involved in each deal. You don’t hand over your money to L.I.C., rather it’s combined with other members in trust to be given over to each business. You have complete freedom to choose only the deals you want to back.
I am short on capital, but I think I have skills to bring to the table for supporting a business. Can I join?
Absolutely. We don’t just want capital but also those who are interested in sourcing, evaluating and guiding businesses. Maybe you are an expert in IT, finance, marketing, logistics or HR? These skills are incredibly valuable to new businesses. Maybe you are well connected or a savvy businesswoman? Maybe you would like to be around women investors and start learning how to build your wealth. Everybody is welcome.
I’m not sure. It sounds like I need lots of investment experience.
Absolutely not. L.I.C. is about bringing members together to learn and support each other. We run knowledge sessions and want to empower both potential investors and female entrepreneurs. The group is currently made up of some life-long investors, some beginner investors, and everything in between. However, what everyone in the group needs is the passion to learn, grow and support female founders.
Do you only invest in female led businesses?
Yes, we actively support and seek out female led business opportunities. Our members want to grow successful businesses and in turn find their investments grow and Singapore is a hub of female talent. We want to see women business owners to reach their full potential, and believe they would benefit from support in multiple dimensions, not just funding. On the flipside, this is an opportunity for our members to utilise their expertise meaningfully, while generating wealth for themselves.
Do you have some examples of LIC investments?
Some examples include an e-commerce platform for personalised gifts (Gifts Less Ordinary), a platform where marketers and creative folk can find the best stock photos in Asia (Klaud9), and Singapore’s first cashless bar & nightclub (Get Juiced).
Aside from capital, what is the commitment in terms of time/money?
The only fee payable is a small annual administration fee to help cover website and ancillary costs. After that it’s about helping the group find and evaluate potential investment opportunities. You can put in as much or as little time as you have.
What does your membership currently look like?
We have Singaporean and expat members. Some are full-time working women, others are entrepreneurs themselves, some have children, and some don’t. It’s a good mix of cultures and experience, and the collective diversity gives us a unique lens and insight on investment ideas.
There are many members of L.I.C. but I will highlight two of my colleagues as follows:
Gail Wong: Formerly a corporate finance banker with Morgan Stanley in Asia, Europe and USA, Gail coaches business leaders to define and design success on their own terms, and champions financial zen and mastery for all women through coaching programs and community-building initiatives. As part of the management team, Gail also takes on the added role of knowledge sharing within L.I.C.
Kate Fleming: Kate has an excitingly diverse 15-year relationship and alliance management career spanning ICT, software and banking in Asia and Europe.
I have a business idea; can I approach L.I.C?
Yes, yes and yes again. You can be a member and a business seeking support. Let’s talk about your wonderful business ideas and how we might grow together!
Where do I find out more details?