When Grace Tahil’s daughter turned 14, they sat down and talked about their careers.
As a family associated with two Indonesian millionaire patriarchs, leisure life was always an option for women in the family, but teens said they wanted to work like mothers. It sparked Tahir’s new determination to support women’s progress and urged her to invest more in women-focused investments.
“Ten or twenty years later, when they join the workforce, I don’t want to see them facing the same situation I’m seeing right now. Much is very male-dominated. “Tahir, 44, says. She founded the startup and is now the director of the family Maya Pada Hospital Group, she talked about her three daughters.
Tahil’s interest in so-called gender lens investment is part of a growing trend among wealthy families in Asia. The younger generation, who inherit wealth, are working their money in more innovative ways that can have a positive impact. This has helped surveys begin to support them, and many surveys now suggest that focusing on gender equality companies can help portfolio managers outperform. I will.
The growth of this practice is particularly important at this time, as COVID-19 has worsened labor force participation, salary discrepancies, and access to capital between women and men. According to data provider PitchBook, funding for female founders fell 31% last year, compared to 16% for all male teams.
Most gender lens investors are looking at three key indicators of a company: the number of female co-founders, the number of women in senior management, and whether the business is creating products that are practically useful to women. looking for.
Gender lens investment vehicles in East and Southeast Asia managed $ 1.3 billion in 2019, according to a report released last year by consulting firm Catalyst Large. Although still small compared to the broad investment industry, the report reports that the strategy is gaining momentum, many of which may come from secret family offices in Asia.
Suzanne Biegel, founder of Catalyst at Large, said that around $ 7.7 billion will be allocated to gender lens investment vehicles worldwide in 2019, and more people will see this strategy as a “source of outperformance” in 2020. This number could approach $ 20 billion. Companies with diverse management teams achieve better sales growth, but research shows that investment teams with gender-balanced leadership tend to outperform performance.
One of the strongest women’s funds is SoGal Ventures, co-founded by Beijing-based 30-year-old Pocket Sun. Sun said 35 of the 38 portfolio companies have female co-founders. Her fund, which manages $ 15 million in assets, has generated an internal rate of return of 80% since it was founded in 2017.
“There is money in investing in women,” she said.
One of the funds Tahir has funded is Teja Ventures, founded by former lawyer Virginia Tan, who currently lives in Singapore. While working in Beijing, Tan built a community for female entrepreneurs to network with their peers when the startup scene there exploded.
She co-founded She Loves Tech in 2015. It’s a connector that runs contests that are popular with women-focused startups and founders, and then launched Teja to address the capital shortages of some participants.
“What I saw in the field of development was that there was a lot of need, but there was no capital and I couldn’t deposit it in a bank. It was always considered charitable.” Said Tan about gender lens investment. “Technology has enabled many of these solutions to be funded.”
Teja’s first $ 10 million fund focused on seeding Asian deals with portfolio companies, including Indonesian plant-based restaurant chain Burgreens. And Sheroes, an Indian social network for women. Mr Tan said 80% of Teja’s companies raised new funding last year, doubling the value of their portfolio. We are currently preparing to begin raising a second $ 50 million in funding later this year.
Even family offices, which have no explicit obligation to diversity, are stepping into the space.
Diana Watson, investment manager at the Tsao Family Office, manages the wealth first created by the late Singaporean tycoon Frank Tsao and is now the board, C suite and trading team of companies seeking family money. Requesting gender statistics for.
“If two very similar opportunities occur, gender diversity may have lost one or made it possible to choose,” Watson said.
Indeed, investing in gender lenses is only part of the broader investment environment and carries some inherent risks that can impede investment by large institutions.
First, the simplified level of diversity data provided by the enterprise can make detailed analysis difficult. And many venture capital firms are still prejudiced against selling from all male teams, or raising money, and often overlook sales from women.
However, these concerns are less bureaucratic than institutional investors and may not be of much concern to supporters such as family offices who may “take more risk”. It’s expensive, Mr. Begel said. In addition, many of these wealthy backers are entrepreneurs themselves, “they see the opportunity to help talented and wise entrepreneurs.”
And as Asia experiences large-scale wealth transfers to second- and third-generation families, more heirs are actively using more innovative and riskier strategies. ..
Some have taken a more open-minded approach to areas where they are still working on diversity and accidentally fell into a gender lens space rather than design. And it looks like they are being rewarded and trying to deepen their involvement.
Kuok Men Zion, the grandson of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok, is not looking for opportunities through gender lenses. However, the 40-year-old head of Singapore-based family office K3 Ventures will support women-led companies, including American developers of prebiotics commonly found in human breast milk and Vietnamese truck startups. became.
“Almost by chance, we found the founders of these women, which we have great respect for,” Kuok said. “I think more and more talented women-led companies will continue to earn institutional capital.”
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