An investment fund created by women for women

Even today, investment remains a male bastion. With the “We Are Jane” women’s investment fund, Conny Vandendriessche, one of the fund’s three partners, intends to bring about change.

"At ING Belgium, we’re very proud to be taking this on,” says ING Belgium’s Chief Risk Officer Krista Baetens.

A women’s investment fund – was that necessary?

Conny Vandendriessche: Even these days, female entrepreneurs have less access to the capital they need for their growth and innovation plans, which is unfair. There’s plenty of evidence that companies with a higher proportion of women in top positions make better profits and take fewer risks. Their approach is different. Women make fewer promises, but are more driven by the projects they want to implement. And the figures follow of their own accord.

"Companies with a higher proportion of women in top positions make better profits and take fewer risks."

How does « We Are Jane » plan to make venture capital more woman-friendly?

C.V.: « We Are Jane » is a fund by women for women, and is 100% managed by women. Its purpose is to supply growth capital to companies with a woman CEO or shareholder. Of course, we do keep an eye on the figures. We only invest in companies with a proven track record, which at least break even and have a minimum turnover of 1.5 million Euros.

Are there any actual applicants yet?

C.V.: We’ve visited around 20 companies and are taking matters further in a number of cases. We hope to be able to announce our first investment very soon. In theory, the fund is open to all sectors, but we’re most interested in human, health and high-tech.

What role does ING play in this?

Krista Baetens: ING Belgium is the second largest institutional investor in this fund. As a rule, our strategy doesn’t include participation in investment funds, but this is an exceptional story we’re keen to be part of. This is a one-of-a-kind fund in Belgium. Besides several large institutional investors, an impressive number of successful women entrepreneurs have also joined in. This has created a strong ecosystem of which our bank is more than happy to be a part. In the future, we’ll also have a seat on the Board of Directors.

"This is a one-of-a-kind fund in Belgium."

One more question: do women really still need preferential treatment?

K.B.: We don’t give women any kind of preferential treatment whatsoever! « We Are Jane » applies the same criteria to women as it would to men. Rather, we think of it as a means of combatting the unconscious prejudices women still have to face. Implicitly, people still associate entrepreneurship with men. By specifically targeting women, our fund intends to help overcome that unconscious bias.

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What happens next?

Are you a woman who was born to be an entrepreneur? Want to launch your own business? 

Photo © Olivier Delforge