Bridging the gaping funding gap for women founders

With Sarah Chen, Co-founder and Managing Partner, The Billion Dollar Fund for Women & Beyond the Billion

GV Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India LLP

Sunitha KR, President of Early-Stage Investments, LetsVenture

Nacitta Kanyandara, Partner and Chief of Growth, Sayurbox

Data on funding for women-led enterprises reveals a rather discouraging story. Deals involving women founders or co-founders accounted for a mere 17.1% of the total PE and VC activity tracked in 2020 in Southeast Asia. If Grab is taken out of the equation, the number dips to just 4.7%, per a DealStreetAsia DATA VANTAGE report. As of 2020, just 12% of venture-backed startups in India and 20% in ASEAN have at least one female founder, per Tracxn and Crunchbase. According to a LetsVenture study, India has about 10,000 angel investors and only 1% of these are women. 

Our panelists will take us through the steps that would be required to correct the imbalance, foster an ecosystem conducive for women entrepreneurs and improve access to capital. Our speakers represent Sequoia Capital and LetsVenture who have been in the news for initiatives that seek to address the funding gap. 

Sequoia Capital India has launched Sequoia Spark, a fellowship programme for women founders in Southeast Asia and India. Sequoia India will offer a $100,000 fellowship grant to 15 women entrepreneurs per year. Sequoia is looking to increase the top of the funnel for all venture firms, with the Spark initiative.

G V Ravishankar from Sequoia India advises on both technology as well as non-technology investments. He’s deeply interested in technology’s role in helping to drive efficiencies, reduce costs and improve access in consumer and healthcare markets. He currently serves on the boards of BYJUs, Capital Float, Eruditus Learning, Faces Cosmetics, Five Star finance, Rebel Foods, among others.

From the investing community we also have Sunitha KR who is overseeing LetsVenture’s new angel investment initiative that seeks to provide access to women CXOs to invest in early and growth stage startups. LetsVenture aims to onboard at least 100 women angel investors in 2021, and will launch at least five investment syndicates led by women.

Representing the startup ecosystem is Nacitta Kanyandara, Partner and Chief of Growth, Sayurbox – a farm-to-table grocery platform that is also backed by Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia. Sayurbox has also raised funding from Astra Digital International, Syngenta Group Ventures, Ondine Capital, among others.

Moderating this panel will be Sarah Chen, co-founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, a global consortium of venture funds that have now pledged to invest and are actively deploying beyond $1 billion towards women-founded companies. To date, the consortium consists of close to 100 VCs and LPs and boasts 6 female founded unicorns. Do join this much-needed critical and high-impact discussion.