Q&A with Bonnie Foley-Wong
Bonnie Foley-Wong is the founder and CEO of Pique Ventures, an impact investment and management company in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She is also the founder of Pique Fund, an angel fund focusing on leadership diversity and women-led ventures, and the author of Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body and Soul.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Having choices available to us is powerful. When choice is taken away from us – due to bias or systemic barriers – we can get stuck in a situation we don’t want to be in. Gender equality means the availability of choice and fair access to opportunities. It means inclusive communities, where people of any gender can feel like they belong. It means diversity of perspectives because one person might believe access is fair, but another person might see things differently. To me, gender equality applies to all aspects of civic and corporate life including in business, leadership roles, and positions of influence and key decision-making.
What led you to create Pique Ventures?
I founded Pique Ventures in 2012 to answer two pressing questions: How can we move money in a more purposeful way? and Where are all the women investors? I tested a few different business models and spoke with investors and entrepreneurs. One of Pique’s early investors suggested creating a fund. She was busy with her own career and causes. She wanted someone else to manage a portion of her private investment capital, to find investment opportunities, and manage them. Many of the early investors I spoke with were dissatisfied with other investment options such as mutual funds, ETFs (Exchange-Traded Fund), and publicly traded socially responsible investments. I had a natural propensity to attract disproportionately more women who wanted to invest and do so with a greater connection to their investments.
Do you think entrepreneurship can help advance gender equality?
Entrepreneurship is one piece of the gender equality puzzle, but it is a key piece. With the future of work changing considerably, entrepreneurship is a great option for women who have the desire to start their own businesses, to rewrite the rules of business or if the current business culture they’re in isn’t working for them, to create the business culture they want. Entrepreneurship is a spectrum, ranging from SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) to IDEs (innovation-driven enterprises). It might not be for everyone, but in my opinion, there is room on the spectrum for someone should they choose it.
In 2017, you were selected as one of BC’s Most Influential Women in the Mentors Group. Why is mentorship important?
Entrepreneurs and new ventures need more than just money to get from point A to point B. To be successful in venture investing, investors need to develop strong relationships with management teams, roll their sleeves up, and build something together with the entrepreneurs that they back. Mentorship has the impact of developing the next generation of leaders, by helping them see things they might not see, but their mentors are experienced with. I know I have benefited from having mentors throughout my own career and I’m honoured to be in a position now where I can be a mentor to others.
When it comes to creating more inclusive leadership, where do you see the biggest opportunities for positive change?
My approach to more inclusive leadership is to lead by example. I put my money where my mouth is by building a more diverse investor community and by investing in a more diverse group of future leaders. I amplify the voices and messages of otherwise underrepresented leaders – effectively setting an example for others to follow. I recognize others for their impact, expertise, and knowledge in their respective fields, not just as people that can speak about diversity. I endeavour to be recognized as a successful and helpful investor because of my impact and my work through Pique Ventures, not just because I’m a woman in the investment industry. I believe investing is an opportunity for people to demonstrate and share their leadership.
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