An article by Female Funders highlights that female leaders possess the industry knowledge, experience, and capital to make great investors. Studies indicate that women bring a holistic perspective to investment decisions and are better at matching their investments to their goals – yet only 1 in 5 investors are women. But Sarah Barber, CEO at Jenson Funding Partners is working hard to diversify the start-up world and bring great ideas to the forefront.
What does the International Women’s Day slogan “I am Generation Equality. Realising Women’s Rights” mean for you in your work life?
Honestly, I don’t think of myself as Generation Equality or realising women’s rights because I have been fortunate in that I have had many opportunities in my work life that I have been able to pursue. When looking for investee companies we try to ensure that we are focusing on a diverse spread of companies, whether this be gender, race, sector or stage of business, so it does impact our business from that perspective.
Can you tell us a bit about where you work?
I am the CEO of Jenson Funding Partners, a small SEIS & EIS Fund Manager, investing in UK start-ups. We are a small team and my role as CEO is very varied. We have invested in 100 companies to date. We have a diverse team, and feel that we have a good diversity within the team with over 50% of the team being female.
As a young girl growing up, did you want to work in the start-up/investing industry?
As a young girl growing up I wanted to be a fighter pilot, a vet and not sit in an office! When I went to university though, I spent a lot of time working out a career path that was safe and secure so embarked on my accountancy training with Deloitte, it was through the experience that I gained there that I realised I liked working with SMEs, and when the opportunity arose to work in start-up/investing leapt upon it!
“Having been a woman in business for a number of years I have definitely seen a change in attitudes towards women in the workplace and there is still some of that stigma, however, the biggest problem is the gender pay gap. My personal belief on this is different attitudes to what is a success factor drives this difference at an individual level, the burden to change this therefore lies at the management level to ensure that the playing field is level.”
In your opinion, why is it important that more women join the start-up/investing sector in the very near future?
It’s an exciting area to be in, working in smaller businesses and start-ups gives you greater visibility and the ability to make an impact. I think the small business community is paving a way forward for diversity in general.
When you’re not being awesome at work, where are we likely to find you?
When I am not working I can be found on my farm in East Sussex looking after our Shetland ponies, goats and dogs.
If there was one thing in the world you could change, what would that be?
Too many things! I have recently sent an open letter to the Chancellor regarding the limits on SEIS funding, which I believe would help the investment community as a whole. I would also ensure that there was no VAT on sanitary products!
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
I believe it is important to work well in a team and for everyone to feel important in that team. This means we are all working together to lift each other up.
Can you remember the day you sent your first instant message and to whom you sent it?
Too long ago – I am getting too old to remember these things!
It would be rude of us not to ask, if you could choose one awe inspiring woman to send a unique instant message to this International Women’s day, anyone at all, who would you choose?
There is not one woman I would choose, but I would certainly want to send one to all saying be kind and believe in yourself.