Women urged to think like entrepreneurs as Pipeline Fellowship gains pace

A female entrepreneurship group says while it supports the idea of training women to become angel investors, as seen in the US, we first need to train women to think like entrepreneurs.


Orsi Parkanyi, founder of Women as Entrepreneurs, says there is a big difference between small business people and entrepreneurs, and too many women see themselves as the former.


“Teaching [women] how to become angel investors is one thing, but getting them to see themselves as entrepreneurs is the first step,” Parkanyi says.


Her comments come on the back of an announcement by the Pipeline Fellowship, based in the US, which has revealed its first-ever fellowship class for the San Francisco Bay Area.


The Pipeline Fellowship, founded by Natalia Oberti Noguera, is an angel investing “boot camp” for women philanthropists, designed to increase diversity in the US angel investing community.


It trains women to become angel investors through education, mentoring and practice. As part of the program, fellows invest in a women-led, for-profit social venture in exchange for equity and a seat on the board.


In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Noguera said Pipeline’s aim is to take down what she perceives as a bias against women in the venture capital sector and the wider start-up ecosystem.


Parkanyi says while she supports the idea of a female-only boot camp-type course, it needs to help women become entrepreneurs before it can help them become angel investors.


“There’s a lot of women in small business, so to sort of give them the tools and educate them on how they can turn that into entrepreneurship [would be beneficial],” Parkanyi says.


“Something like this would be really good – to tap into those small business [mindsets] and turn them into higher growth entrepreneurship [mindsets].”


Parkanyi says many women shy away from the term “entrepreneur”, partly because the wider perception of entrepreneurship is skewed towards men.


“People are not used to seeing it connected to women. There is research on what people visualise when they see the word ‘entrepreneur’ and the majority visualise a man,” she says.


“When we talk about Oprah, we don’t think about her as an entrepreneur. But Steve Jobs is an entrepreneur and Richard Branson is an entrepreneur.”


“With women, we’re just starting to get used to the term.”


Some people believe any support offered to entrepreneurs shouldn’t be gender-specific, but Parkanyi disagrees.


“To have start-ups which are female-only, I disagree. I also disagree with male-only start-ups. Diversity in a start-up can lead to success,” she says.


“In terms of education, why not? If the people in the program can get more out of it because it focuses on concerns that fit them, then why not?”


“Education is all about people getting the most out of it, so I don’t see anything wrong with it.”


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