Research consistently proves that more diverse teams yield better results. Capria has embraced this knowledge since inception and is now increasing integration of gender smart investing principles into capacity development within the Capria Network.
Further, IFC research shows there is a strong correlation between gender balanced leadership and financial performance. The funds with gender-balanced leadership outperformed their unbalanced peers by as much as 20% in annual returns.
We caught up for a quick Q&A with Capria Network Member, Terra Global Capital’s Principal, Nicole Rossell and Leslie L. Durschinger, founder, Terra Bella Columbia Fund on how and why to increase women’s participation in investing and the kind of impact it will bring within the investing ecosystem in emerging markets. Here are the excerpts:
How does diverse leadership make your fund unique or give you an advantage?
Nicole: The most integral part of leadership starts with selling yourself as the smart and confident person you are. Selling your story is what will provide you the best advantage.
Leslie: We feel that being where we are, as women fund managers, demonstrates our strength, productivity, tenacity as well as our ability to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes. These are all distinct qualities that give us an advantage particularly when investing in emerging markets and sectors such as smallholder agriculture.
What is the biggest challenge you see today resulting in the low numbers of women in fund management?
Nicole: Lack of confidence in women managers in the market, many a time due to the machismo attitudes, although in numerous occasions it has been proven that women are more effective as leaders, it is still difficult for such a male-dominated industry to accept it.
Leslie: While it is not easy to quantify, it seems harder to convince mostly male asset holders to invest in a fund run by women. I also believe that because there are so few managing funds, women have smaller investor networks to leverage.
The small number of women fund managers effectively keep the status quo and reinforces any bias making it hard to break this cycle. In addition, there is definitely a dual standard of acceptable behavior for women and men. There is a tendency to view strong and assertive women differently than men, this can make selling your fund difficult in a sector with highly intellectual and self-asserted people.
What tip can you share for women who have the goal of becoming a fund manager?
Nicole: Don’t ever sell yourself short! You’re effective; smart and powerful in what you want to achieve. You will get it, don’t give up.
Leslie: Know your stuff, do not be afraid to ask for the order, and be ready to take a lot of no’s before you succeed.
What is the biggest challenge and/or what are positive trends you see today in making capital available to women entrepreneurs in emerging markets?
Nicole: The biggest challenge is Machismo. Luckily, the trend we are witnessing today is that more women are speaking up and proving what amazing managers we are. These keep giving way to more opportunities. How many men can run a business, a house, raise children, volunteer and still have dinner on the table with a smile? You tell me! We (women) always have things under control. Sadly; we underestimate ourselves.
Leslie: It seems like the number of asset holders that are seeking to promote gender diversity in fund management is increasing. Finding them can be difficult and sometimes your fund strategy, structure and size may not align with their requirements. It should be an important component of your capital raising strategy to identify investor prospects that will value the gender diversity you bring to the private equity fund ecosystem.
How will you use your leadership position as a fund manager to drive gender equality, health, rights, and well-being of girls and women?
Nicole: Women need to be a part of the solution across all levels, be it within our business, investments, and the communities we work with. Better opportunities bring better well-being and quality of life. These opportunities will bring in more awareness that will increase knowledge and let women know what they are capable of and how far they can succeed.
Leslie: As women fund managers, we believe that we have the financial power and the emotional understanding needed to deeply integrate gender into our investment strategy. This is done through ensuring that women are in positions of control and decision making on the investees governance boards and that they have full access to the benefits (financial and training) that the fund delivers.
Capria offers Gender Lens investors the opportunity to support and benefit from funds with female leadership. Six out of Capria Networks 19 fund managers include females in leadership, with two teams that are exclusively women-led and 4 teams that have women partners or principals.
More than 30% of Capria’s Network Funds Have Women in Leadership Roles. Read here how it is adding value to the emerging market investing ecosystem.
Read what other network members have to say about gender-smart investing:
- Lessons in gender-smart investing from Unitus Ventures, a Capria Network member >
- Lessons in gender-smart investing from Brightmore Capital, a Capria Network member >
- Lessons in gender-smart investing from Lateral Capital, a Capria Network member >
- Lessons in gender-smart investing from Capital Invent, a Capria Network member >