Invest in Women NOW

The Time is Now for the EU to Equal the Stakes for European Women in VC

A comprehensive report developed by General Partners of Venture Capital Funds on the state of Venture Capital funding with a set of initiatives to ensure equal access to capital for European female-led Venture Capital funds.

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We are excited about the present and future of women in Venture Capital and company building

We are ready. The data speaks for us, and we are generating extraordinary value, fostering responsible investment and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and changing the traditional world of VC one deal at a time. But we can go faster, and we can have a more significant impact if only YOU, the reader of these lines, support us in our mission.

Our demands are not thinking about what we need today. Our asks are shaping the future we will all enjoy. If these demands are met, what would the present and future look like? Read below and enjoy.

We are closer than you think!

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A few reasons to join our movement

10%

The percentage of European VCs with a gender-mixed General Partnership team from 2016 to 2020.

1.7%

Only 1.7% of all capital went to female founders in Europe from 2016 to 2020.


€5B

The total estimated assets under management by women-led VC Firms. Compare that with €51B from the entire European VC Firms from 2016 to 2020.

<10M€

Average estimated fund size raised by women-led funds in Europe vs. €70M average fund size raised by the European VCs in general.

Unfortunately, we do not have accurate data about women-led VCs and Growth Funds in Europe, because no one measures it officially - that’s the why behind our first ask!

We define a female led/female co-led VC as one where women hold at least 30% of the General Partners.

The State Of VC & Funding Activity For Women-Led Companies In Europe

The European Investment Fund deployed a record amount of €12.9B in commitments to the market in 2020

However, only a single-digit % goes to female-led VCs and Growth Funds (although we are missing the exact number of the stakes females get). Investing in female-led VCs is not a priority now. Hopefully, that will change now. 

The European Venture Capital market lacks women at senior partner positions in funds

Data suggests the avg % of female-led funds doesn’t exceed a single-digit. There’s a lack of diverse investment strategies at the Limited Partners level, and over 90% of Limited Partners rarely asking about a fund's diversity strategy while investing. 

Thank you, DealRoom, for supporting us with the data! We hope to see more data on women moving forward!

Let's challenge this reality together

The solution is as simple as widening the top of the funnel

Can we pressure the industry so that at least 30% of the available capital goes to women-led funds in the next four years?

Sporadic initiatives and programs have concluded in negative growth*

Despite some initiatives in place, and although 2020 was an exceptional year for VC, women founders received even less capital than the previous years. $14.9B was raised in Q1 2021, almost one year’s worth of historical activity and nearly matching the $16.8B total in 2020.

More diversity at the investor level leads to more diversity at the portfolio level.

If we support women as the source of capital we will see diverse results at a portfolio level. For that, we need coordinated initiatives. We can change the equation together.

Awareness is key to changing the dynamics, the industry & the world

Now that we're becoming more aware let's work together from the level of Limited Partners right through female-led VCs to female funded businesses to make the change happen.

Who is behind this movement?

Well, you are already a part of it! Furthermore behind it is an exciting collective effort by 25 female General Partners from different countries, with Total Assets Under Management of approximately €2.9B and a total capitalization of portfolios of over €15B.

This group of women represents funds with 250 team members, where 45% are female, but only 8% of females hold real firepower in the funds. Less than 10% of European Limited Partners ask General Partners about ESG and diversity elements in their funds operation, decision-making and investment strategy.

What is our final goal? 

Funding females equal access to finance is innovation, both at the fund level, Limited Partners level and companies led by women. For more innovation in Europe, we need more projects that represent clean, green, medical, and education sectors with solid elements of deep tech – and female General Partners are the ones who invest most in these projects. 

We will reach our first milestone in only 3 to 5 years

The goal is 30% of total Limited Partners/Fund of Funds capital available to be invested for female-led funds. We're looking for a multiplier effect: To jump from 3% to 30% in 3 years. 

In just eight years, we should reach equal stakes (by 2028!)

Don't you feel that after almost 20 years of initiatives with no results, this is the moment to start afresh?

Our asks are simple and easy to implement

Establish a Fund of Funds of €3B for women-led funds

Establish a European Fund of Funds of €3B to anchor female-led VCs and growth funds by contributing up to 50% of the capitalization of those funds, up to a maximum commitment size of €100M per fund.

 

  • The European Investment Fund and other active Limited Partners can already support this initiative. European Commission to consider setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all taxpayer supported Fund of Funds funded by European Commission to generously reflect gender contributions to society, i.e., 50% of all funds committed in a given year need to be committed to female-led VC firms. If there are not enough eligible VC and growth funds, commit contingently to meeting gender KPIs at investment committee and investment team levels.
  • Establish a co-investment Fund at the European Union level to match VC funding to female founders. I.e., if a female-led startup gathers €3M in funding, there is an opportunity to match that from a co-investment facility. The European Investment Fund is doing this for specific sectors like artificial intelligence (AI) or space-tech, but being eligible, the VC needs to be European Investment Fund funded, which blocks 90% of female-led VCs.

Look into the existing pool of funds and Fund of Funds supported by the European Union to ensure at least one female General Partner

We need to create career paths and avenues for female talent to be promoted to the General Partner level and create their funds.


It is not enough for legacy funds to promote a female to a PARTNER title. 


She needs to have percentage shareholding in the General Partner and every other benefit that the male General Partners have.

Grant/Loan to the General Partner contribution up to Fund II of the firm 

Lack of capital upfront to fund the General Partner contribution is one of the most significant issues women face as emerging managers.

A tracking platform to make sure female-founded companies are being supported

We must ensure that VC firms have females at all decision-making levels, most notably at the General Partner level. Data talks: There is still no mandate for European-funded funds to track data on European capital allocation and how it affects ESG goals. We need:

  • Data on funding, including what type of government funding (European Investment Fund, local, national, etc.) end up at female-led VC firms and with female founders” there was an extra comma after fund. And/or, normally just need one or the other.
  • Leading European Limited Partners such as European Investment Fund, Isomer, Axon, and other EC-funded Fund of Funds should prioritize the gender composition of managing partners, the investment committee, gender composition of other persons with a partner title, and the entire investment team. Moreover, data should be measured all through the funnel, right down to female-led startups and gender composition at the level of investee companies.

  • Reported gender composition of startup teams at Board, C-level, and management level. This reporting should be a requirement, and it should include suggestions on % targets.
  • Diversity Index: Recommend that the gender composition of the investment teams (and other gender-related KPIs) be included in the European Data Cooperative (Invest Europe) and potentially also the likes of Dealroom, Pitchbook, Preqin, etc. If decision-making partners or the management team are below the 30% threshold, they should not qualify for the index.

Set Up Relationship-Building Events For Women-Led VC Firms and Limited Partners

Set up two events per year where women-led VC firms and international Limited Partners (including American, Asian, and others) are invited to network and establish relationships. These events will bring more capital to Europe and the female-led VC ecosystem.

Financial incentives to investment in women-led funds

Offer tax incentives to Limited Partners who invest in female-led funds and companies at the national and international level.

get involved

Sign the petition to push the ask for equality in access to capital for female founders

We will work to turn our asks into action. Your signature could make the difference in supporting women in the European VC and startup ecosystem

What's next?

We will keep pushing to make this a reality. This group of unstoppable women will:

  • Meet once a month to evaluate how things evolve and track KPIs
  • Share best funding practices, the talent available for the firms, and the deal flow
  • Keep on sharing information about Limited Partners devoted to changing the dynamics surrounding women in VC
  • Keep on gathering objective data from the industry to reflect the reality at the decision power level
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