The European Women in VC joined forces to promote female entrepreneurs and to ensure equal access to capital for European female-led Venture Capital funds. The launch of their initiative is marked by a report on the funding in the CEE ecosystem through the lens of gender diversity. It was developed by a group of female investors – European Women in VC, Experior Ventures and Unconventional Ventures, and supported by Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
“Each member state put forward one female investor in a group of 24 (some countries didn’t have any) to shed some light and provide more information on each local market. It turned out that female investors and, in turn, female founders are not as equally represented and funded as their male counterparts in most parts of Europe. The group got together to brainstorm ideas and make suggestions to Commissioner Gabriel and the relevant public institutions on how to improve the situation and provide more diversity,” Elina Halatcheva, Managing Partner at BrightCap Ventures and the representative of the initiative for Bulgaria, shared with The Recursive.
The initiative’s leaders believe that the region needs deep tech in clean, green, medical, and education sectors. They also think that female General Partners are more inclined to invest in these types of projects.
Their goal for the next few years is 30% of total Limited Partners/Funds of Funds available to be invested for female-led funds. To do this, European Women in VC want to establish a European Fund of Funds of €3B aimed at female-led VCs and a co-investment Fund at the European Union level to match VC funding with female founders.
Only 10% of European VCs have a gender-mixed leadership team
The report analyzed data between 2016 and 2020. The team admits that there isn’t a lot of data about women-led VCs and Growth Funds in Europe and this is one of their future tasks. The report defines a female-led or co-led VC as one where women hold at least 30% of the General Partners.
The results show that only 10% of European VCs have a gender-mixed general partnership team. During this period, €51B was managed by European VC firms and only €5B by women-led VC firms. Data depicts that only 1.7% of all capital went to female founders on the continent. The organizing group represents funds with teams of hundreds of members, out of which 45% are female, but only 8% hold management positions. Another key finding is that investors sign bigger cheques for men. Average round sizes at Seed and Series A are smaller for all-women teams in CEE than for mixed and all-men teams, the report states.
“I think we should stop identifying founders by gender, race, religion, to name a few. Anyone who deploys imagination, intelligence, hard work, resilience, and a bit of luck, should be confident in their success. And, as more female investors emerge (who can relate better to some problems female founders are solving), more funding will become available,” Halatcheva said.
This week, The European Commission launched Women TechEU, another initiative that compliments women in VC’s endeavor. This is a project that aims to support deep tech startups, led by women. Both the European Women in VC initiative and the new EU pilot are promoted by Mariya Gabriel who has set female representation in all sectors as her priority.
“Through Women TechEU, we want to increase the number of women-led start-ups and create a fairer and more prosperous European deep-tech ecosystem. We believe that today’s support to deep-tech female founders will increase their chances of success and boost the overall European innovation ecosystem by drawing in more female talent,” Gabriel says.
The Women TechEU pilot is open for 50 promising deep tech startups from the EU Member States and Associated Countries until the 10th of November. The scheme will offer financial support to women-led startups in earlier stages of development with grants of €75K, coaching and mentoring through the EIC’s Women Leadership Program.