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Recruiting Women To The Burgeoning (But Mostly Male) Host Of Angel Investors

Women philanthropists have traditionally stood back from venture capital startups and angel investing; only 13% of angel investors in the U.S. are women. That's why Natalia Oberti Noguera, a 2005 Yale graduate, founded an angel-investing bootcamp for women.

Created to increase the ratio of women angel investors in the social good category, Oberti Noguera's Pipeline Fellowship is announcing a call for applications for women philanthropists who want to be angel investors in social ventures. The classes of 20 women in New York and 10 women in Boston start this year (applications can be found at the Pipeline Fellowship applications page). 

Oberti Noguera wants to take successful women from different industry areas and show them that they can boost the rise of venture creation by applying their passion for social change and their experience as philanthropists. Her Pipeline Fellowship will give them hands-on experience investing in women-led, for-profit social ventures.

The program is specifically designed for women who are first-time angel investors, and expects fellows from a variety of backgrounds, including law, finance, healthcare, the arts, and small business, among others—the common thread being that they want to learn to "invest for good." Pipeline will provide education on due diligence, term sheets, valuations, and board governance, and will match each participant with an experienced angel investor to serve as a role model. Participants will commit to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training.

Oberti Noguera discovered through market research that the ratio of women to men in investing in social ventures and in operating and founding social ventures was way off. She and other women realized that talented professionals and philanthropists were leaving great potential female-led companies on the vine.

"The user pain that I felt especially in terms of the numbers of this network was how hard it was to secure funding for for-profit social ventures," says Oberti Noguera. "There’s a bunch of women in the philanthropic community. But only 13% of women are angel investors. They can change the world by investing in women who do social ventures."

Oberti Noguera says that during this most recent round of applications, and before, she has had women tell her that they were most excited about the team aspects of the boot camp and in investing in ventures that other women found valuable and socially viable. When I asked her about what differentiated the program from other incubators or boot camps for investors, she said there was a different dynamic at play when women were involved in learning about investing and in carrying out the practice. 

"What was very striking was that candidates were saying they were attracted to this program because of the group dynamics and the learning peer-to-peer, and the fact that they all said they will respect the group’s decision," about which companies to invest in, Oberti Noguera said. 

There are many companies out there doing social good who are looking for the right kickstart investment to make them a viable for-profit.

"[These are] people who might have self-selectively taken themselves out of angel investing because they thought it was a, b, and c," says Oberti Noguera. "We are finding them when they are wearing their philanthropic hat. There are hybrid ventures out there that could change the world, and could also move the needle in terms of the issues that they care about."

If you want more information on the Pipeline Fellowship, you can read about the applications here and visit their site here, or follow them on Twitter @pipelinefellows.

<[Image: Flickr user DownTown Pictures]