Funding

A bleak snapshot of the gender funding gap

Fi Bendall /

Here’s one day in the reality of the gender funding gap.

  • Fifteen companies
  • Twenty-one male founders
  • Two female founders

I conducted my own unscientific study into the gender funding gap after recently attending the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) summit in Toronto, where access to capital for female entrepreneurs was a burning topic of conversation.

A random sample on Crunchbase taken from one day — July 26 — of funding rounds for 15 companies shows that out of the 23 founders listed for the funded companies, only two are women. The 15 companies range in size from startups to big state-owned enterprises.

Research by DWEN presented at the summit suggests that in 2017, only 2% of venture funding globally went to female founders. What’s more, the DWEN research backs up plenty of other studies that have shown women are still not getting a fair shot at attracting sizeable investment for their businesses.

One Swedish study found male investors tended to see female entrepreneurs as averse to risk and rapid growth. Another report published by The Information found men dominated the critical roles in the US venture capital industry: “… 89% of investment decision-makers at the top 72 firms were male and 75% were white.”

In my Crunchbase sample study, the funding rounds start from $US475,000 for Hungarian martech startup Automizy Zrt and go up to $US41 million for US pharmaceutical company QuVa. (South African energy giant Eskom Holdings received approx. $US2.5 billion in debt refinancing, so it’s an outlier in this sample.)

British company Developing Experts received the second lowest disclosed funding amount and is one of only two companies with a female founder. The other company out of the 15 with a female founder is Radius, a real estate brokerage firm based in San Francisco, which received $US4 million.

Here is the list of the 15 companies, founders and amounts raised, with female founders in bold. (Raised amount in US dollars.)

  1. CirCO Coworking Space, founder Linh Hoang, undisclosed
  2. SolarHome, founder Greg Krasnov, raised $1 million
  3. Eskom Holdings, group CEO Phakamani Hadebe, raised $2.5 billion
  4. Vokal, founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, raised $5 million
  5. IQLECT, founder Sachin Sinha, raised $2.5 million
  6. ZEN Rooms, founders Kiren Tanna and Nathan Boublil, raised $15 million
  7. Ranida Games, founder Ben Joseph Banta, undisclosed
  8. QuVa Pharma, founders Peter Jenkins and Stuart Hinchen, raised $41 million
  9. Developing Experts, founders Sarah Mintey and Shane Morgan, raised $658,000
  10. Radius, founders Biju Ashokan and Sanya Gurnani, raised $4 million
  11. Healx, founders Andreas Bender, David Brown, David Cavalla and Tim Guilliams, raised $10 million
  12. Marie Zélie, founder Krzysztof Ziętarski, undisclosed
  13. Sokowatch, founders Daniel Yu and Josh Middleman, raised $2 million
  14. Trell, founder Prashant Sachan, raised $1.25 million
  15. Automizy Zrt, founder Gabor Koncz, raised $475,000

The list is a stark example of the daily reality of funding for female-led companies. As I’ve noted, it’s an unscientific and random sample, but it shows the peripheral status of women on the investment radar.

Access to capital is perhaps the single biggest problem facing female-led businesses around the world. While far more funding activity is starting to happen in the startup and early-funding stages for women, the amounts are still minuscule compared to the big money deals going to predominantly male-founded and male-led companies.

When it comes to funding, women are still getting crumbs, while men make off with the loaf.

NOW READ: Women face hostility in cryptocurrency spaces, but they’re fighting back

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Female Social Network and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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