Women entrepreneurs are a relative rarity in Britain. They represent around 27% of the nation’s self-employed yet they only 15% majority own businesses compared to 30% in the USA.
One woman with a mission to change that situation is Gita Patel, a graduate of London School of Economics who qualified a a chartered accountant, and spent 5 years in the oil industry before becoming a senior banker in the NatWest Group.
During this time she recognised the problems women faced in finding investors for their businesses and she become a founding investor in Stargate Capital Management Ltd. She has nowl aunched ‘Trapezia’, the first UK-based investment fund that will use its 30 million resources to invest in young dynamic companies in which women have an influential role.
Gita, who has become one of the most influential Asians in Britain today, recalls:”My first investment was in a technology centred business workin with one of th best technologies I had come across in 20 years. I took a personal interest in the company and started mentoring some of the board members.
“At this stage, I still believed (somewhat naively) in the efficiiency of the market i.e the best projects get funded. I soon realised that, in reality the company, despite the fantastic opportunity it offered investors, was not attracting the kind of investment it merited. In short the company was a victim of an extremely inefficient and biased market.
“This inspired me to introduce a better business model based on how we can help these companies to realise their potential. The Chairman of this company was a women and I soon discovered that women find it difficult to be seen as entrepreneurs since most of the investors/business angels (who happen to be men) neither understand them nor take them seriously”
‘Trapezia’ was created to bring a fresh dynamic to women entrepreneurs in the UK because, says Patel: “I passionately believe that good entrepreneurial opportunities should not go unfunded. If gender made no difference, it would cease to be an issue”.
Next week (February 8-9) Gita will be a keynote speaker at the Prowess Conference in Cardiff, Wales, when she will carry her mission to an audience of 300 businesswomen.