News Release

Two new Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) early stage venture funds launch across North America

March 2, 2023

Canada’s First All-Female Angel Fund Network expands in Atlantic Canada, Silicon Valley, US and Manitoba.

In an effort to support a growing number of women seeking education, opportunities and involvement as angel investors across North America, new WEL investment groups have launched in Atlantic Canada and Silicon Valley. Each is led by an exceptional team of diverse and highly-qualified women. Incorporating these women-led funds in an ecosystem that is historically underrepresented by women, they are providing crucial and intentional funding to founders and leveling the playing field for women founders and investors.

“Straight away, there was so much interest from women in each of the Atlantic provinces to become investors – that excitement certainly helped to create a lot of momentum in setting up the fund quickly,” Andrea King, Managing Partner, WEL Atlantic.

WEL Atlantic, an initiative of the Atlantic Women’s Venture Foundation, is the only pan-Atlantic angel fund investing across all four Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. WEL Atlantic was launched under the leadership of seasoned female investors Andrea King, Laurie MacKeigan, Lauren Ledwell, and Kathryn Lockhart. The first WEL Atlantic fund of 40 investors will provide much needed capital to female-founded / female-led companies in this region. The Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University assisted with WEL Atlantic’s launch.

WEL Silicon Valley (SV) launched under the direction of Managing Partners, Leila Yari, Joanne Fedeyko, and Jyoti Lamba. These women are leading investment efforts for a global group of Limited Partners across the US, Canada, Europe, UAE, and Asia, into US based C-Corporations, primarily based in SV. The fund will align closely with veteran angels in Silicon Valley and the famous SV incubator, Y-Combinator, which gave birth to Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Instacart, Doordash, and many others. “We are thrilled to get this incredible group of female investors together to be on the cap tables of Silicon Valley startups. Our goal is to have these women well-versed in angel investing, and hopefully investing alongside each other for years and decades to come. We are happy to grow the WEL ripple effect beyond Canada with this first US-based fund,” Leila Yari.

WEL Manitoba is spearheaded by Joelle Foster, who is co-founder and the CEO of North Forge Technology Exchange, a technology incubator accelerator that also runs the largest publicly accessible fabrication lab in North America. The five MPs have been working diligently to get an exemption from the Manitoba Securities Commission that will allow half of the fund to consist of non-accredited investors. WEL Manitoba has decided to move forward with the first fund with accredited investors only. They are hoping their second fund will include non-accredited investors once an exemption is given.

“Women controlled capital can be a powerful force for change. Investment capital controlled by women continues to grow, and we’ve seen an incredible opportunity to bring women together to actively participate while providing essential financing to early stage companies. Our mission of ’more female investor representation now, equal representation someday’ continues with the growth of our organization.” Stephanie Andrew, Founding Partner, WEL.

The WEL investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. Launched in 2017, WEL now consists of a powerful community of over 150 women investors from around the world managing a growing portfolio of investments which should reach about 40 company investments by the end of the year. Over 70% of WEL investments are in women-run and women-led businesses. WEL not-for-profit was created to support national fund operations with funding from the Government of Canada.

For more information on how to participate in WEL please refer to our website at or contact Glynnis Vaughan at 858-401-3558 PST. For WEL Atlantic contact Andrea King at 709-725-4788 AST.