Björk to the rescue with feminine values?

Iceland's newest venture capital fund draws on singer's fame

Björk's quirky soprano made her the most famous Icelander since Leif Ericson, but after her homeland's economic collapse, she's using her global fame as a singer-songwriter to promote a venture capital fund aimed at rebuilding her country.

The Björk Fund, unveiled last month, will invest in socially and environmentally sustainable companies that tap Iceland's highly educated population and extensive water and green energy resources, according to the firm that manages it, Audur Capital.

"Instead of talking about the problems we have, she is on a mission to build a sustainable Iceland that's not going to leave the country in worse shape for future generations," says Audur co-founder Halla Tomasdottir. Audur contributed 100 million krona ($775,000) to start the fund.

Iceland's problem isn't a lack of business ideas, Ms. Tomasdottir says, but a shortage of capital to launch them. There are innovative pharmaceutical and software companies, a national effort to convert all of Iceland's petroleum-powered cars, buses, and ships to electricity or hydrogen fuel cells, and enough steam pouring out of the Earth to expand spa-based tourism.

Audur is managed entirely by women. Tomasdottir and co-founder Kristin Petursdottir created it in 2007, reacting to what they saw as increasingly risky and aggressive behavior in the financial sector. "In investment banking in particular we've built on excessively masculine values," Tomasdottir says. "I don't think the problem is men, I think the problem is a lack of women."

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