Published: 06 OCT 2022

Rapidly growing, a strong female venture ecosystem in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland has tremendous potential for investment and partnership. It is bursting with emerging opportunities and has a lot to offer.

In part one of a two-part series, we introduce key participants and drivers, look at the potential and its current state, and speak with industry insiders.

The benefits of diversity 

The benefits of female-led investment have been widely canvassed and the statistics are remarkable. A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study discovered that start-ups founded and co-founded by women are significantly better financial investments. For every dollar of funding, these start-ups generated 78 cents, while male-founded start-ups generated less than half that, just 31 cents.  

Further, an environmental, social and governance (ESG) report by global investment research firm MSCI found companies with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1 per cent per year versus 7.4 per cent for those without. Adding even more credence, research by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that women-led teams generate a 35 per cent higher return on investment than all-male teams. 

New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP),the cornerstone investor in many of New Zealand’s VC funds, blogged earlier this year that New Zealand was ranked second place (globally) in the MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2021. It noted that women in New Zealand continue to make firm strides in business, propelled by “supporting entrepreneurial conditions” (rank 1, score of 78.4) and “quality of governance” (rank 1, score of 97.7). NZGCP uses three C’s to describe the environment: capital, capability and community. 

Female-focused capital 

In April this year a $20 million fund, investing exclusively in female-founded and women-led ventures, was announced by ArcAngels, part of Auckland’s Icehouse Ventures family. It aims to back up to 50 female-founded start-up businesses over the next four years. ArcAngels Fund II followed the inaugural ArcAngels fund, which raised $2.8 million in 2020 and assisted 31 start-ups led by women. 

ArcAngel’s news followed hot on the heels of an announcement by Artesian that it had set up its first New Zealand office in Auckland with the launch of a AUD$100 million Female Leaders VC Fund. The fund will exclusively target Series A and B rounds of high-growth female-led ventures across the Asia Pacific, with New Zealand a key region of focus. Artesian said endemic gender inequality had resulted in asymmetrical capital distribution and an opportunity to tap into the underinvested pool of female talent. 

Ventures are being selected again this year for a further round of funding from Coralus (formally SheEO). Set up in NZ by former Telecom (now known as Spark) Chief Executive Theresa Gattung, Coralus works by inviting investors to be “activators” by making contributions into a funding pool which is distributed among five female-led ventures each year as an interest-free loan, mentoring, and pro-bono legal and PR support. So far, more than NZ$1 million has been distributed.     

In 2021, Even Capital was launched  by Anna Stuck and Sarah Park. Their ambition was to even out the balance when it came to giving female-led or female-founded businesses the opportunity to access funding. Anna and Sarah are working with growth-stage businesses in Asia Pacific including Sharesies, Orbis Diagnostics and Easy Crypto, and say this represents over NZ$7 million in investments to date. Even Capital has joined  leading global industry body, 2X Collaborative, for what’s known as “gender lens” investing. 2X Collaborative operates in partnership with the Investor Leadership Network (ILN), with a mission to convene and equip investors to increase the volume and impact of capital flowing toward gender-smart businesses. 

Great capability building 

There are multiple opportunities being offered to female founders to build capability and grow their networks. NZGCP partners with Electrify Accelerator which operates nationwide and has all of the venture capital teams working together to support female founders through mentorship and introduce them into their founder network. That includes GD1, Blackbird ventures, Movac, Punakaiki, K1W1, Hillfarrance , Quidnet Ventures, NZ Growth Capital Partners and Pacific Channel. GD1 were pivotal in making Electrify Accelerator a reality given they were one of the first VC’s to lend their partnership and support for the programme and its women founders. Electrify runs a twelve-week course for early-stage start-ups and has selected ten for this year.

Marian Johnson, Chief Executive at the Ministry of Awesome, which set up the accelerator, is clear about her goals. “Electrify Accelerator is about providing a real opportunity for some of the talented high-growth woman-led start-ups which are at the right stage of their venture development to take part in the programme.” 

The University of Auckland Business School is another key contributor to building female capability. Last year, Theresa Gattung injected $2.5 million there to create a Chair for Women in Entrepreneurship leading a Centre for Enterprising Women. As noted above, Gattung is a strong voice for equality in the ecosystem, not only as founder of Coralus but also as a cornerstone investor in the ArcAngels Fund II.  

A strong community 

There’s no shortage of Auckland-based, nationwide and online communities that female funders and founders can join. NZGCP has a great list of resources that offshore investors and other interested parties will find insightful and useful. 

Watch this space 

With this level of female-focused capital, resources and support available, we anticipate strong growth in the number of female-led ventures presenting exciting opportunities for investment.  

Auckland’s female entrepreneurs are working in almost every sector, but there’s a real buzz around those emerging in financial services, specifically fintech, when automation data and AI is applied to accounting. Education technology, marketing technology and human resources–based start-ups are also notable for the number of women starting new ventures. And in a powerful demonstration that the sky’s the limit for women, there are aerospace founders such as Fia Jones, whose Auckland-based company Astrix Aeronautics is working with Rocket Lab.  

Our next article on the female entrepreneurial ecosystem in Auckland will speak with female founders Irina Miller of Daisy Lab and Sarah Balle from Supie and female funders guiding the venture capital decisions.  

Find out more

Contact our team to learn more about investment opportunities in Auckland, New Zealand.

DISCLAIMER: This article provides general information on potential investment opportunities in Auckland and is not intended to be used as a substitute for financial advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the relevant author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited. Tātaki Auckland Unlimited disclaims all liability in connection with any action that may be taken in reliance of this article, and for any error, deficiency, flaw or omission contained in it.