Aussie VC signs pledge to invest in more women-founded start-ups

“Women have been hit hard throughout COVID-19, so it’s critical that we continue to push to make sure funding gets into their pockets, because we know that once it does, women are more successful in the growth and valuations of their start-ups,” Ms. Clunies-Ross mentioned.

As things stand, women are emerging as a powerful force in the tech industry. In 2021, three of the top five venture funding rounds were for women-founded companies, Airwallex, Brighte and Canva.

The promises companies such as Artesian have made to Beyond the Billion are not legally binding, but its founders say the rate at which money has poured into women-led start-ups exemplifies that commitment.

Beyond the Billion was founded by Shelly Porges, a member of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team before becoming Senior Advisor, Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) for the US State Department. Prior to her public work, she was a senior executive at American Express and a startup founder in her own right.

Ms. Porges co-founded the engagement with Sarah Chen, a Malaysian investor who cut her teeth at Sime Darby Berhad in Kuala Lumpur before founding Lean In Malaysia, a women’s leadership network.

The couple saw the growing gap between male and female founders and wanted to push back against the assumption that women were only focused on building or investing in fashion or beauty projects.

“We wanted to mainstream investing in women and remove this gender lens that restricted the types of businesses that received money, Ms Porges said.

” And it worked. We have hundreds of funds now investing in everything from AI and VR to fintech, cyber and blockchain.

Ms. Chen added that COVID-19 has hampered women’s progress towards increased funding.

“We had taken one step forward, and now we have taken two steps back,” she said.

“That’s why we need to continue to spread the need for funding and build this network where female founders connect with investors who are dedicated to expanding the investment pool.”

A BCG and MassChallenge study published last year showed that women-led businesses generated 12% more revenue per year, using on average one-third less capital than male-led start-ups.

Per dollar of investment, start-ups founded by women generated 78¢, while start-ups led by men brought in 31¢.

“It happens because women just have to perform better, they have more expectations and more hurdles to jump through,” Ms Clunies-Ross said.

“While we have seen progress, we are still seeing women raise significantly less money in their funding rounds.”

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