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Training More Women to Be Angels

Posted by: Nick Leiber on November 17, 2011

A year ago we profiled Pipeline Fund Fellowship, a boot camp program for women who want to learn the ins and outs of angel investing. Its goal is to increase the ranks of female angels and steer more cash toward female social entrepreneurs. “There’s a lack of gender diversity in the VC investment world,” Pipeline founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera explained. “And there’s a lack of funding for profit-seeking social ventures.”

smallbiz_blog_angel.jpg Pipeline fellows mug with T-shirts at a funding event in October.

The inaugural program wrapped up last month, with 10 participants investing $105,000 in a Washington (D.C.) company called PhilanTech, which makes grant management software for nonprofits and philanthropies. Having demonstrated “proof of concept,” Oberti Noguera is quadrupling the program’s spots to 40, though they remain limited to investors who meet requirements mandated by SEC accreditation rules. (My colleague looks at how Congress is trying to tweak those rules in this post.)

To encourage frank discussion and rapport, Oberti Noguera, 28, is keeping each class small: just 10 women. Like last year, each participant will be paired with an experienced mentor. Pipeline’s Boston cohort will start its boot camp in December; two cohorts in New York City will start in February along with another for individuals living outside those cities.

When the new boot camps wrap up in 2012, participants will be encouraged to keep in touch. Oberti Noguera is building a network alums can use to keep apprised of potential deals, participate in workshops (on topics such as setting up an angel group and exits), and learn about other angel networks and groups.

With new data from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire showing few women get or make angel investments, Oberti Noguera wants to put herself at the deal table, too. She’s hoping to set up a venture capital fund in the next few years to make investments in social enterprises led by women. “It would be another way for [our alumni] to remain active in the space,” she says.

(Photograph: Courtesy Pipeline Fund)

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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