“I’m out.” The dreaded phrase we hear time and again watching Dragons Den from the comfort of our sofas. Launching a new business is not easy. It takes time, hard work and grit. As a female entrepreneur it’s even tougher.

In 2017 female founders received just 2% of venture capital dollars, despite women-led businesses growing from 26% to 36% in the US in the past 20 years (Source: PitchBook). Men are 86% more likely to be VC funded than women (Source: Startup DNA). Meanwhile, less than 19% of business news mentions ventures led by women. In a male dominant? environment, women can find it hard to convince boards – often made up of men – to fund them.

 

Investing in women founders: the smart thing to do

Those who do fund women see greater returns. Teams with at least one female founder performed 63% better than all male founder teams (Source: First Round Capital). Meanwhile, VC backed women-led companies delivered 12% higher revenue than male equivalents and had 35% higher ROI.

Investing in women-founded organisations has huge potential to enable women’s empowerment and address far reaching gender equality issues, especially for social enterprises. It’s widely accepted that women are more likely to hire other women, to focus on women beneficiaries, and to pass on their gains to female family members. And showing that women can be leaders should not be undervalued, especially in societies with outdated views on gender roles.

WomenChangeMakers: Investing in women

Womanity believes that empowering women and helping them to improve conditions within their community instigates lasting social and economic development. We have seen first hand the impact of investing in female social entrepreneurs.

Our WomenChangeMakers programme supports majority women-led social enterprises in Brazil and India which have the power to generate progress for women and their communities. The programme provides them with flexible core funding, mentoring and expertise to help scale up and/or replicate high impact business models.

Building a coalition of women entrepreneurs

The programme has now been in operation for 9 years, and to date has supported 15 women-led social ventures at the pivotal moment of growth in their organisation’s trajectory. Once selected, Fellows go on to receive the advice and financial support that entrepreneurs, especially women, struggle to find. This includes being connected with leading professional partners, including businesses, foundations and thought leaders over a 3 year period.

Case study: Industree Foundation

Industree Foundation is one of the 16 social ventures to benefit from the WCM programme. Womanity provided Industree with a detailed needs assessment to identify their strengths and establish where assistance would be most useful as they grow their operations. This led to the development of an expansion strategy with support from external partners including PWC Strategy&, Mercuri Urval and Accenture.

The Industree story and many others like it show that social enterprise holds great potential as a mechanism for enabling women’s empowerment. The more women-led organisations that are supported with funding and connections, the sooner we will see a more equitable society.

To find out more please visit WomenChangeMakers.

You can hear from Industree’s founder Neelam Chhiber in this blog post.