The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund is now working on closing its fund with a target of $20 million, and hopes to be funding female-led ventures in the second or third quarter of 2020.

Two representatives of the nine-member council overseeing the fund told a session at the National Angel Capital Organization Atlantic Summit in Halifax on Tuesday that the new fund will aim to increase the diversity of investors in the region.

But they added they believe investors will benefit from backing female entrepreneurs because women have greater success rates in small business than men and can turn oft-overlooked opportunities into successes.

“Our investment theory is very much about driving diversity in the region,” said founding member Rhiannon Davies, a Former Vice-President and Board Member of GrandVision NV. “We are creating an inclusive ecosystem. We believe – and we have the statistics that tell us – that diversified companies deliver a much greater ROI [return on investment] to investors than other companies.”

The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund began to take shape early this year when a group of business women from around the region came together to plan a way for women investors to work with women entrepreneurs.

Cathy Bennett, the former Newfoundland and Labrador finance minister and one of the founders of the fund, said that only 2 percent of the angel investors in Canada are female and the number may be even lower in Atlantic Canada. She added that the average female-led startup receives $900,000 in funding while the corresponding figure for companies led by men is $2.1 million.

Yet there are entrepreneurial opportunities that female entrepreneurs can pursue successfully – especially in the healthcare space – that male entrepreneurs may be unaware of. And a group of female investors would understand the opportunities better and therefore be more willing to invest and help grow these companies.

The fund’s organizers are in talks with the governments of the four Atlantic Provinces about contributing to the fund, and they’re also looking for investments from women with the means to invest. The goal is to have a $20 million fund but they do not rule out the figure being larger than that.

Davies said the team is now in the “closing phase” of putting the fund together. She added that launching it will include devising educational programing that will help women learn best practices in angel investing, allowing more women to become involved.

When the fund is closed, the organizers will probably hire a fund manager to oversee the investments.

Given that the nine founders come from all four Atlantic provinces, Davies noted that no other East Coast investment fund has such a broad geographic base among its founders. And she added that this could help in the campaign to convince provincial finance departments to establish a regional investment tax credit.