The Development Bank of Wales and the British Business Bank have announced the appointment of two women business angels as lead investors with Women Angels of Wales (WAW), the business angel investment syndicate for women.
Investment banker Sharon Pipe and insurance industry specialist Rachel Ashley join fellow business angel Jill Jones as lead investors and members of WAW, a syndicate of over 30 women that was set up in 2022 by the Development Bank of Wales.
Established to help support women in the early-stage investment community in Wales, WAW is now jointly supported by the British Business Bank and the Development Bank of Wales. The syndicate has access to co-investment of up to £250,000 for each deal from the Development Bank’s £8 million Wales Angel Co-Investment Fund.
With a career in venture capital and investment banking, Sharon has worked in America as Managing Director-International for GE Equity. Under her leadership, the international team built a portfolio of approximately $325 million in direct investments, limited partnership interests of $360 million and committed co-investment pools of $600 million. She also served as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of GE Capital Partners European Equity Fund.
Sharon left GE Capital to establish TH Lee Putnam Ventures and raised over $1billion to invest in later stage venture companies, buyouts, spinouts and public entities deploying information technologies to re-engineer and scale. As a Managing Partner, Sharon led and managed the Fund’s activities outside the US mostly in Asia and Latin America as well as a number of US based financial technology investments. In recent years, she has advised a number of venture backed companies and holds various Non-Executive Director positions.
Rachel Ashley is a graduate of Swansea University and the Australian Graduate School of Management. She began her career with the Commonwealth Bank before progressing to Aegon as Marketing Director responsible for Hong Kong SAR, Thailand, USA and Australia. She went on to join Zurich Financial Services in Australia with responsibility for driving transformation then became Head of Strategic Portfolio Delivery for QBE Insurance.
Since returning to Wales, Rachel has held Non-Executive Director positions and is as an Advisory Board Member to various SMEs. She is also a committee member for the Ministry of Justice UK North Wales Recruitment Advisory Committee.
Carol Hall is Investment Manager for Angels Invest Wales. She said: “Sharon and Rachel bring a wealth of experience to Women Angels of Wales and share a passion for growing angel investing in Wales and supporting female entrepreneurs.
“Building the angel ecosystem in Wales is a priority for us, particularly as data demonstrates that women are much more likely to invest in female-founded companies. Women angels like Jill, Sharon and Rachel therefore have a critical role to play in supporting female entrepreneurship.
Susan Nightingale, Director for Devolved Nations for the British Business Bank, said: “Having Sharon and Rachel come on board as lead investors alongside Jill will really bolster the work of Women Angels of Wales, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the syndicate continues to evolve and grow. We hope these new appointments will attract further interest from female investors, and we can work together to improve representation in finance communities and rebalance the early-stage investment landscape in Wales.”