The founder and CEO of online accounting platform Beany believes there's an alarming lack of investor support for female-led companies, which is why angel investors like SheEO are so important to New Zealand and the wider investment community.
Beany provides online accounting services for more than 1500 small businesses across New Zealand. The company raised more than $1.5 million for its offshore expansion plans, but it was only with the help of three key backers: SheEO, leading businesswoman and SheEO Country Lead Theresa Gattung, and Ice Angels, the angel investment arm of business incubator Icehouse. Beany's founders also reinvested in the round.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support we've received from these investors," says Beany founder and CEO Sue de Bievre.
"Collectively they've helped us overcome the extreme barriers women-led businesses face when it comes to securing financial support, here in New Zealand and around the world.
Last year the company started looking for capital, but it was a struggle to find the backing they needed.
"We specifically requested the inclusion of female investors in the list of leads to approach. Surprisingly we were provided with a traditional male focused list and despite my personal approach to everyone on that list, there was no encouragement for what we were doing and a clear resistance to invest in a female led business,” says de Bievre.
“This is the reality of gender inequality which is not only an economic challenge but also a social issue. Tacking gender equality requires a change of attitude in the business sector as well as financial incentives and more support for female owned businesses.
She believes that New Zealand can't reach its full economic potential if it excludes half of its working population.
“We can't ignore the evidence that countries with greater gender equality not only offer better socioeconomic opportunities for women, but also tend to grow faster and more equitably,” she says.
De Bievre and Beany discovered SheEO, where she secured an interest-free loan. SheEO investors agreed to invest $500,000 into Beany.
Theresa Gattung was one of those investors. She says, "I'm very happy to back Beany and through SheEO working with Ice Angels, to create a pathway for women-led companies working on some of the world's biggest challenges to raise the capital they need to scale."
Beany also secured funding from Ice Angels, who then agreed to invest $400,000 in what CEO Robbie Paul describes as "a very solid investment" and an investment from K1W1 which focuses on businesses building future wealth for New Zealand.
De Bievre say that it was difficult to raise capital through ‘usual' channels, which shows that the cards are stacked against female-led businesses, and the need for groups like SheEO.
"If Beany's experience is anything to go by then Kiwi businesswomen are being let down by the money men who've for too long decided which ventures fly and which fail,” de Bievre says.
"That's a huge lost opportunity if successful female-led businesses are being under-funded. We need to look at who's making those decisions, and on whose behalf, and whether they're in New Zealand's best interest if those businesses don't get the chance to create wealth and jobs and expand offshore."
"Fortunately, Beany is now able to pursue that goal and take our platform to the world, thanks to the backing of investors who can see we have a winning platform," she concludes.