Funding the Female Economy: New campaign aims to close gender investment gap
A new global consortium for women is aiming to close the gender investment gap that is mainly found in women-founded businesses. The Billion Dollar Fund for Women is an initiative that aims to empower women entrepreneurs in their respective fields by providing increased investments from venture capital firms around the globe. CGTN's Silkina Ahluwalia reports.
Recent data revealed that women entrepreneurs are more likely to experience the funding gap. Companies backed by women raise 50 per cent fewer investments compared to men. That's where the Billion Dollar Fund for Women comes in. Shelly Porges is one of the co-founders of the new campaign which acts as a global consortium for venture funds to pledge more investments in companies founded by women.
SHELLY PORGES CO-FOUNDER, THE BILLION DOLLAR FUND FOR WOMEN "This is really important because all over the world we see a major funding gap for women. You know many of us are aware that in many countries there's a gender pay gap but what we don't talk or think about is the gender investment gap and why is that important to anybody but the women? It's important because we are missing out on great innovations that can help the world. We find that women as entrepreneurs are quite mission driven and they don't just primarily want to get rich, that's not just what motivates them. What motivates them is solving important problems."
As part of their official launch, the consortium have secured over 460 million US dollars in pledges including those from Chinese venture capital firm, Gobi Partners. The firm has pledged to invest 50 million US dollars in women entrepreneurs by 2020 in various industries including e-commerce and fintech. Sarah Chen joined the team with a vision of changing the paradigm of how venture capital firms approach women-founded enterprises.
SARAH CHEN CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, BLOXED "Asian businesses driven by female founders are really changing the game. As of the last four quarters, just take a look at Alibaba. We talk a lot about Jack Ma but do we remember the women behind him or beside him. Peng Le, she raised 14 billion for N Financial and now she's the CEO of Lazada. She was really responsible for driving that. We are right now in a very interesting time for Asia, an emerging market where we are getting a little bit more digital savvy and we are also getting richer and more educated and it's an unsaturated market where things can grow tremendously with one single innovative idea."
Sarah believes those ideas are what makes Asia an extremely attractive market for investors. But there are still challenges ahead such as what Sarah calls an unconscious bias in the investment community.
SARAH CHEN CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, BLOXED "And what we are fighting for right now through the Billion Dollar Fund is what I personally believe, it's not a pipeline problem. Women are starting businesses twice as much as men but we are not getting there because what we are lacking is access to capital."
The Billion Dollar Fund aims to draw attention to that by closing the gap between private, public and institutional investors globally creating a much bigger impact. Silkina Ahluwalia, CGTN, Bali.