How Can Investors Get More Capital to Women Founders? ‘Pay Attention to the Barriers at Play’

Gaining access to venture capital isn’t a new challenge for underrepresented founders, or those seeking to work in VC. But approaches to solving it are changing.

Women are consistently left out of conversations with investors, are granted less funding, and only represented a tiny percentage of all venture capital raised over the last 30 years. At the same time, only 11% of investing partners at VC firms are women, and just 13% of VC funding goes to startups with a woman on the founding team — though, slowly, those numbers are shifting upward.

It’s a clear disconnect from research that shows that gender-diverse teams and women-led companies fare better in profit and growth, all without similar access to capital as men.

There are a lot of reasons to support the success of women-led teams, Ruth Shaber of the Tara Health Foundation said during a webinar held in honor of International Women’s Day, March 8. ImpactPHL had gathered four seasoned women in the entrepreneurship and investor space to talk about how and when to invest in women-owned and women-run companies.

Why fund women-led teams

Women are often closer to the problems they are setting out to solve, including innovation in fighting climate change, access to food and safety, and healthcare. Women often have a different perspective on risk, Shaber said; they tend to see more of long view on the business and are less likely to compromise on short-term gains for long-term gains. Women-led teams have markedly higher levels of collaboration, and lead more inclusive and higher-performing teams.

Judee Von Seldeneck, who recently established the JVS Philadelphia Fund for Women that will provide capital for women entrepreneurs in Philadelphia, said women are more qualified than ever before.

“We’ve got the credentials, the track records, and we’ve delivered results,” she said to the panelists. “Women have gotten better at speaking up — millennials, especially, in this employee-driven economy.”

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