India’s female founders, co-founders garnered $14.6% of all private funding in 2021

Startups founded or co-founded by women in India bagged $6.7 billion in private funding in 2021, finds DealStreetAsia’s latest report.

According to Female Founders in India 2021, these companies accounted for about 14.6% of all the private capital raised by startups during the year. This is DealStreetAsia’s inaugural report on the gender funding gap in India.

The data is skewed by edtech decacorn Byju’s, which bagged $2.5 billion in equity and debt financing in 2021.

A snapshot from the report

Startups founded solely by women, meanwhile, raised $116.58 million, or a mere 0.25% of total funding bagged by private companies in 2021. Top fundraisers included fintech startup Kinara Capital, jewellery brand Melorra, hyper-local retailer aggregator LoveLocal, biotechnology company Zumutor Biologics, and D2C pet care brand Wiggles.in.

In comparison, companies founded solely by women in the US received 2% of all capital secured by VC-backed startups last year, according to PitchBook. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Southeast Asia accounted for 0.62% of all private funding in the region in 2021, according to a DealStreetAsia report released in March.

Top cities and verticals

Bengaluru-headquartered startups led the tally in terms of the capital raised by female (co)founders, thanks in large part to edtech major Byju’s. Gurugram, which is home to unicorns OfBusiness, Pristyn Care, Mamaearth, and MobiKwik, ranked second. 

The edtech sector in India accounted for the lion’s share of funding that went to companies founded or co-founded by women last year. It was followed by e-commerce and fintech.

The growth in funding for fintech, traditionally considered a male bastion, could open doors of opportunities for aspiring women entrepreneurs, felt female founders.

“I sure hope that fintech’s exponential growth will create more opportunities for women leaders and for women to join the workplace in general because the number of women CEOs has been decreasing in India Inc the last few years, with less than 5% women CEOs as of 2021,” said Kinara Capital founder and CEO Hardika Shah.

Going forward, I definitely expect to see this skewed ratio slowly correct itself as many more women ignore the male-dominated tag and enter these industries with full gusto, hopefully supported by strong female and male leaders.”

Chasing growth stage companies

Investors continued to chase growth-stage deals that accounted for the bulk of the deal value in 2021. There was also a significant debt component as Byju’s announced raising $1.2 billion through a term loan B funding in November. 

While there remains an unconscious bias and less support from VCs for women entrepreneurs, the ecosystem has seen an improvement in the recent past, female founders told DealStreetAsia.

Inclusion of women in the boardrooms and senior positions is seeing some traction and this is indeed good news. Even investors are staking their money on women-led startups with more confidence and aplomb. We have just scratched the surface, but the future looks bright and promising for everyone,” said Upasana Taku, co-founder and COO, MobiKwik. 


Female Founders in India 2021 captures:

  • Deal count by country, vertical and funding stage
  • Share of capital raised by cities, vertical and funding stage
  • Top dealmakers
  • Founder perspectives

This report is available exclusively to DealStreetAsia – Professional subscribers.

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