To say that the investment scene is unequal is an understatement of great extent. Today women only own 4% of Swedish companies, and out of all the venture capital only 1% goes to female owned companies. But you can tell that things are moving and old structures are being challenged.
During three intense days in the autumn of 2021, 10 women were selected for an educational program on sustainable investments. We talked to two of them, Pernilla Demir Dahlberg and Elin Ledskog, at their diplomation on december 15th.
– For the first time in a long time, I have felt like a sponge in a pool of water, just absorbing knowledge. Our group of participants is truly a fantastic bunch, we complement each other well and thrive together, says Pernilla who is Head of Marketing at Sterisol.
Nothing to lose on being equal
The program is an initiative by Linköping Science Park, Linköping Municipality, Lead, The Swedish Energy Agency, Cleantech Östergötland, Norrköping Municipality, East Sweden Chamber of Commerce and Swedbank through the Sparbank Foundation Alfa. Elise Karlborg, project manager at Linköping Science Park, has organized the program and is very pleased with the results.
– It has been amazing to work with this group of women who all have shown such great engagement and enthusiasm to learn. These women, and people like them, will be able to make huge differences in the world of investing, says Elise and Pernilla agrees.
– It is well researched and documented that companies with equal ownership and management have an increased growth, so companies really have nothing to lose by being equal. We need both more female entrepreneurs as well as owners. And I believe that I can see a changing trend. The youth of today, both boys and girls, are more aware of money and investments. But that doesn’t mean that we should relax, we still need to stay aware and work proactively to make positive changes happen now! says Pernilla.
– To include more women in the ownership circles is exactly the way to go. In a company the owners have great access with their competence and networks. If we exclude women we exclude opportunities, says Elin, who spends her days at Againaty as Head of Sales.
You don’t need that much money
The program was led by Asynjor Invest, an educational company whose mission is to help women take control of their own life and capital. Other lecturers were Business Angel Johanna Palmér, Jenny Engerfelt from Almi Invest and Johan Hardmark from Swedbank. 18 people applied to the program and after an interviewing process 10 women with a variety in backgrounds and earlier experience were selected to participate.
Elin shares that she has tried investing smaller sums just for fun since her late teens, but has felt the urge to learn more for a while.
– I was quite nervous before the program started because I felt that my previous experience was lacking and I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with the others. But it turned out that I had nothing to worry about. Within the group we have been open to each other and everyone has really seen this as a learning experience.
– One of the things that I have learned is that you don’t need massive amounts of money to start investing. If you put a smaller amount into an unlisted company you get access to the entrepreneurial journey and get to be part of the creativity and zeal, and that is one of the things that really drives me, says Elin.
Trying out a real-life-investment-experience
– We wanted the participants to practice valuing companies based on listening to the pitch and asking questions. They had also had the opportunity to do research about the startups beforehand and based on this gathered enough facts to make a decision regarding whether they would have chosen to invest in the company. It was also a way to make the participants see how much they actually have learned during this program, says Elise.
Both Elin and Pernilla are determined to keep evolving on their investment journeys and one opportunity they see is to become partners in one of Asynjor Invests investment trust companies where they can make investments along with others.
– To me it feels like the next natural step of my learning process. To be able to keep educating ourselves together and use each other’s knowledge to the best. I hope to stay connected with the other participants as well as women who participated in earlier versions of this program, says Pernilla.
Don’t undermine your competence!
Elise shares that the organizers of the program will be inviting all previous participants to meetups during 2022 to lay the ground for a new community for female investors.
– We see that these programs have led to so much learning and development and we want to keep that going! Says Elise.
– A lesson to myself, and to women in general, that I take with me from these days is that we have so damn much to bring to the table! Think of all the knowledge and skills of women you know, many of them can be crucial to help companies move forward. So therefore, be open and proud of what you got and how you can contribute! Says Pernilla.