opportunities for women

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”

— Anne Sweeney, formerly co-chair of Disney Media

According to PitchBook, female-founded startups continue to gain a greater percentage of venture investment in 2019, with VC dollars committed to US female founders rising by 8.1 times over the last decade. However, the share of VC dollars that flowed into startups founded by a woman or a group of women is only 2.7 per cent of the total investment in 2019.

Will we be able to work towards increasing that percentage in 2021?

With this list of resources, we hope that all women founders, innovators, and change makers can step up to start building their dreams to help create a better world for all.

From competitions and initiatives to accelerators and incubators and female-focused investors, this list has resources catered for female founders at any stage of their startup idea!

Competitions, initiatives and networks

Amplify is a Girls in Tech startup competition for women founders. The competition has helped to provide funding, exposure on a global stage, and a community of investors and change makers committed to supporting women entrepreneurs.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative is an annual international entrepreneurship programme that aims to drive change by empowering women impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 2006, the programme is open to women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact.

H.E.R Entrepreneur is a platform where it inspires, educates, empowers and connects entrepreneurs, leaders, government, and investors across Asia through its online resources, meet-ups, workshops, and conferences.

In June 2015, Intel Capital announced the venture industry’s largest-ever commitment to invest in technology companies led by women and underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans).

All Intel Capital investments cover a broad spectrum of innovative industries, including artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, data center, and cloud, 5G communications and next-generation computing.

Also Read: Levelling the playing field: How to build a home for women in tech

She Loves Tech is a global platform committed to building an ecosystem for technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation that creates opportunities for women. The company houses a tech startup competition focused on women-led or women-impact businesses.

SoGal is the largest global platform for the education and empowerment of diverse entrepreneurs and investors. Its mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital.

SoGal Foundation is bringing the top 150 women & diverse founders to Silicon Valley to participate in the final round of the largest global pitch competition for underrepresented entrepreneurs, as well as participate in a three-day immersive startup bootcamp.

WEConnect International is a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of the US that are at least 51 per cent owned, as well as managed and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with multinational corporate buyers.

WSC’s signature is a yearly startup competition series across Europe with the mission to give early-stage female-founded or female-led startups brand exposure, pitching opportunity, and presenting semi-finalists from each country at a Final Event (London) to a panel of international investors, press, corporate executives and angel investors.

Twice a year, Women Who Tech recruits women founders who are creating innovative tech products to solve big problems to the Women Startup Challenge, an 8-week virtual programme.

Grants and Funds

Amber Grants began in 1998 in honour of Amber Wigdahl, who died before fulfilling her dreams. An Amber Grant of US$4,000 is awarded every month, and one of their 12 monthly recipients receives an additional $25,000 Amber Grant at the end of the year.

Businesses operating in the US or Canada are eligible for the grants.

Also Read: How women in tech can navigate the 2021 business landscape

Global Fund for Women is one of the world’s leading foundations for gender equality, standing up for the human rights of women and girls. It works to advance rights by getting money and support to organisations led by women, girls, and trans people who are fighting for justice in their own communities.

It supports organisations led by historically marginalised groups who are working to build strong, connected movements for gender equality, justice, and human rights

The Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program powered by Bank of America provides women entrepreneurs in the United States the opportunity to access affordable loans through Community Lenders.

At the core of SWEEF’s investment framework is a women-centred strategy focusing on Southeast Asian investments in primarily Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The Fund will invest in women entrepreneurs as well as businesses operating in sectors where women comprise a large portion of the labor force, those delivering products and services meeting the unique and unmet wants and needs of women and girls, and those where the leadership demonstrates a strong commitment to gender equality and wider diversity.

We-Fi allocated US$249 million over two financing rounds in 2018 and 2019 to implementing partners for work in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The programs aim to benefit 115,000 women-owned SMEs. Projects are implemented in over 50 countries with over half of the funds going to low income (IDA-eligible) countries, including many facing fragile and conflict-affected situations. It has mobilised US$2.6 billion in public and private funds.

Women’s Fund Asia is a regional women’s fund, committed to supporting women and trans people led interventions to enhance and strengthen access to women’s and trans people’s human rights. It envisions a peaceful and egalitarian region in which women’s and trans people’s participation, leadership and enjoyment of all their human rights are ensured and secure.

Geographical Scope:

South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan

Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam

East Asia: Mongolia

Also Read: Women in tech: A global evaluation

Astia was founded in Silicon Valley in 1999 as a non-profit organisation dedicated to identifying and promoting best-in-class, high-growth ventures that include women leaders.

Astia levels the investment playing field by cultivating a trusted global ecosystem of engaged male and female investors and advisors, who offer crucial resources, including capital, networks, and expertise.

Aviatra Accelerators aims to empower female entrepreneurs. It enables women to start and sustain businesses by giving them the resources they need to be successful. Through its expertise in business basics, guidance from mentors and coaches, and access to capital, Aviatra Accelerators continuously encourage its members to move forward, and it embraces them when they return, helping to refuel and reignite their passions.

They currently serve markets in Northeast Ohio & Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky.

CRIB aims to empower women by providing the support they need to achieve their entrepreneurship dreams. This will benefit women as they achieve personal fulfilment; their families, as women gain financial empowerment and work-life balance; and society as a whole, as it creates businesses with a social impact, raise diversity in the workplace, and contribute to positive economic impact.

Founded in 2012 by tech pioneer, Kathryn Finney, Didtechnology, Inc (d.b.a digital undivided), is a social startup with 501 status that merges data and heart to develop innovative programs and initiatives that catalyzes economic growth in Black and Latinx communities.

The Get Sh!t Done Accelerator is an industry-agnostic virtual accelerator for female entrepreneurs who want the power to choose their path to scaling profitable US$1million+ business.

Halo Incubator is a New-York-based incubator founded by two Chicago Booth alumnae. Their core and only focus is helping imaginative, passionate women solidify business plans, shape strategies, and raise capital, while amplifying their voices along the way. It guides founders through every stage from ideas to seed round.

Her Corner runs The Accelerator, the first in-person programme focusing on business growth and scalability specifically for women business owners in New York City, Washington, D.C and Philadelphia.

Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas, MassChallenge strengthens the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world for zero-equity taken.

NewME is an entrepreneurship education program, serving early-stage business founders and their teams through mentorship, specialised curriculums, and for those companies chosen — capital investment. Its program enables founders to completely reevaluate product, sales, and marketing strategies, prepare for investment pitches and connect them to its network of partners. As the first underrepresented founder focused program in the United States, NewMe has led founders to more than US$47million in funding.

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) was created to advance women-led companies. The Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator is a for-profit organization focused on increasing women entrepreneurs’ access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early stage capital markets.

Ready Set Raise is an industry-agnostic national startup accelerator, consciously created by and for women and non-binary founders. Their goal is to find, support, and advance high-growth, pre-seed startups across North America.

Also Read: How women in tech can navigate the 2021 business landscape

Simona Ventures is a platform that provides access and opportunities to empower businesses and initiatives that solve gender gap challenges.

In early 2019, Simona Ventures presented its first APAC Women Founders Accelerator. The goals of the programme are not only to support gender equality by showcasing inspirational women leaders but also to build a community of women entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific.

Springboard’s accelerator program serves as the pipeline into its community of world-class entrepreneurs, investors and business development professionals. Springboard hosts programmes annually in industry verticals such as Life Science, Digital Health, Fashion Tech and Digital Media/Technology. It has partnerships with affiliates in Israel and Australia where it also co-produces programs in Life Science and Technology. Each accelerator class includes between 8–12 companies that are recruited, qualified and advised by its world-class expert network.

The Refinery, an early-stage accelerator program designed to assist innovative women-led ventures in becoming scaleable and investable businesses. The Refinery engages local intellectual and financial capital to participate in the growth of new businesses while leveraging community resources.

Women Accelerators, formerly de la Femme, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Massachusetts organisation. It is passionate about promoting the advancement of women and bridging the gender gap. This can be seen in the wage gap and under-representation of women in senior-level positions, and the boardroom and in the government, from Corporate 500 to startups.

Women of Startup Nation (WOSNA) is a four weeks programme, dedicated to accelerating the success of female-founded companies in Israel. The accelerator accepts teams that have at least one female founder.

Women’s Startup Lab is a Silicon Valley-based startup and leadership accelerator for women entrepreneurs globally who have the bold vision to lead the wave of innovation and change that is required for growth and competitiveness in today’s economy.

VC Funding

All Raise is a nonprofit formed by 34 senior female investors and has committed to doubling the number of female partners in the next 10 years.

BBG Ventures is an early-stage fund focused on consumer tech startups with a female founder.

Backstage Capital has directed over US$4million in investments towards underrepresented founders, almost exclusively backing women, people of colour, and LGBT founders.

Also Read: 3 leadership lessons for women in tech

Chloe Capital is a seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in women. It catalyses solutions to the gender and diversity gap in entrepreneurship by offering investors the opportunity to Do Well by Doing Good. The company recruits women-led technology and tech-enabled companies and uses its national network to drive business after its investments. Chloe Capital is excited to advance the next generation of inspiring leaders as it continues to build a community that supports women entrepreneurs.

Female Founders Fund makes small, supporting investments in companies sourced by its Venture Scouts but operating in sectors or stages that are currently outside of its focus on institutional seed-stage opportunities.

An early-stage investment firm focused on vibrant opportunities for women-led businesses.

Jane VC is an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in high-growth female-led startups. It invests globally in visionary founders.

MergeLane is a VC firm that invests in high-potential startups and venture capital funds with at least one female leader.

Next Wave is a movement driving impact, diversity, and inclusion in early-stage investing and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its global fund has 99 women investors, 25 of them women of color, which is led by an experienced investment committee of ten women.

Startups can pitch to she1K to get connected to a network of corporate executive women, angel investors, and partners. worldwide, from all industries, to empower innovative entrepreneurship with high growth potential. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis so you can apply anytime you want!

The first female-led millennial venture capital fund investing in diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Asia. Powered by the SoGal Ecosystem across 40+ cities around the world, SoGal Ventures is galvanising a brand new demographic — millennial and GenZ women and minorities — to take centre stage in entrepreneurship and creation.

XFactor Ventures is focused on making pre-seed and seed-stage investments in companies with billion-dollar market opportunities that have at least one female founder.

Also Read: Women in tech: Carman Chan’s Click Ventures is one of the most consistent VC funds globally

Kiva is a nonprofit organisation that crowd funds small, zero per cent interest loans for entrepreneurs, often prioritises funding women-led ventures.

iFundWomen is a startup funding platform providing access to capital through crowdfunding and grants, expert business coaching on all the topics entrepreneurs need to know about, and a network of women business owners that sparks confidence, accelerates knowledge, and ignites action.

Women You Should Fund is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform brought to you by Women You Should Know, a leading digital hub of women’s and girls’ empowerment.

Do you know of any other initiatives, funds, investors and/or resources catered for women entrepreneurs?

Let us know in the comments so that we can update this list to empower all females for a gender-equal world even further!

This article first appeared here.

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