The Asian Impact Leaders profiles: Lucy Chow
Lucy Chow, angel investor and advocate for women entrepreneurs worldwide, talks about her multi-ranging work on why leveraging investment for women is essential for their business success as well as the future of our planet.
The Asian Impact Leaders Network – created by AVPN and the Rockefeller Foundation in 2022 – has a mission to amplify the voices of some of the region's most ambitious social investors, innovators and policymakers. Its creation coincided with the G20 being hosted by Indonesia last year and the focus is now on making the most of the G20 in India this year, enabling its members to build alliances and share their solutions to the world's most urgent problems on a global stage.
AILN member Lucy Chow is senior senator of the United Arab Emirates World Business Angels Investment Forum and general secretary of the Global Women Leaders Committee, an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI).
She tells Pioneers Post why investment in female start-ups and encouraging women entrepreneurs to become investors is a game changer for the world.
We’re in 2023, and female founders still only get about 2% of overall investment money worldwide. That’s shocking. Evidence shows that companies owned by female founders, or if they have one female founder, outperform those owned solely by men. If we’re saying our motivation as investors is to make money, why are we not investing where it's proven that you can make more?
The investing space is a natural fit for women. Women want a return and to do something meaningful with their money. As women, we focus more on ESG companies that have an impact. We are also natural mentors. Money matters for entrepreneurs. But the more important thing is your time, advice, and, if you can, your networks. We also know that once female entrepreneurs are funded – whether they’ve had success or not – they’re more likely to become angel investors.
|The Global Women Leaders Committee of the World Business Angels Investment Forum
The Global Women Leaders Committee of the World Business Angels Investment Forum is committed to leveraging unique access to the world’s most influential women leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs and artists – uniting these global forces to harness their collective knowledge, address today’s critical issues, and generate innovative solutions to empower the world economy.
Chow, who is secretary general, says that the Committee has four core aims:
She says: “When you ask people to name successful tech entrepreneurs, they'll say Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and so forth. We need to change that narrative and start naming successful female entrepreneurs. And once you get that first media interview, everyone suddenly wants to interview you. So even if you’re a small start-up, that first media interview can be a turning point for a brand.”
We need to encourage more women entrepreneurs to become investors. I’m part of a movement called 2022 Female Angels, started by Sophie Smith, a fabulous female founder and CEO of Nabta Health. She was speaking on a panel, and for the umpteenth time, someone said if there were more female investors in the MENA region, we would see more flows going to female founders. And she thought, that’s it, I'm going to try to get more women to become angels. What’s important about 2022 Female Angels is the amplification of the message and the need for women to talk about their investments. Guys talk about it all the time. We should be doing the same thing. It's not a dirty word to say that I want to make money.
A significant barrier we need to address in accessing investment is success metrics. We need to work on ways to measure the effectiveness of philanthropic investment. I was on the board of a non-profit trying to ease education access for girls in India, and 75% of every board call was focused on metrics. We’d have been more effective if we’d had a reporting roadmap. It’s a big issue we’re trying to solve right now.
Women are not wallflowers in the UAE or in Saudi. Some of the strongest, most intelligent women I've met have been women from MENA
Women in the UAE can be an example to the world. It might shock people who don't understand the region, but our cabinet comprises more than 50% of women. We've heard a lot about the difference MacKenzie Scott and Melinda Gates make and how quickly they deploy capital. But there are many women here doing the same. Women are not wallflowers here or in Saudi. Some of the strongest, most intelligent women I've met have been women from MENA. And they’re doers and givers. They ask, “where best can we deploy our money and make a difference?”
I’m excited to be in the Asian Impact Leaders Network because I get first-hand information from the people making decisions for their country. It is essential to see and understand how countries make decisions and be a part of that. With a seat at the table, I hope my voice will be heard in terms of coming up with action plans for this year and beyond.
- Read more about the Asian Impact Leaders Network in G20 and beyond: the rise of the Asian Impact Leaders
We need to create a more positive future for the next generations. If we can create groups of high-net-worth individuals who decide where best to channel money together, the next generation of young women will see that there are role models for them and may think about giving earlier.
- Read more about how social investors are taking action to close the gender gap in Investing in a brighter future for women and girls
Our children's generation is highly attuned to the fact that the world is broken. They are woke about all the issues that are wrong and are resentful that they have to be the generation to fix them. Ten years down the road, I hope that because we've started having more women making a difference in this space, our children can feel comfortable figuring out how best to give – whether that’s money or advocating for change.
·Country of origin
United Arab Emirates
Senior senator in the United Arab Emirates World Business Angels Investment Forum; secretary general, WBAF Global Women Leaders Committee and general partner, WBAF Angel Investment Fund; investor with NextWave Impact Fund and The Founder Institute; member of board of trustees for The American School of Dubai and the Solidarity Circle, UNHCR; steering committee member of 2022 Female Angels. She also hosts a video series targeted at entrepreneurs titled Down to Business.
Author of Changing the Game: Discover How Esports and Gaming are Redefining Business, Careers, Education, and the Future (2022) and regularly contributes to entrepreneurship, corporate innovation, and investor events and forums as a speaker, moderator and judge; named one of LinkedIn TopVoices 2020 for MENA and one of CEO Middle East’s Influential Women in the Arab World 2020; recognised by Arabian Business as one of 50 Inspiring Female Business Leaders 2022 and also Titanium Magazine’s Top 50 Global Inspirational Women to Look Out for in 2022.
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