DSA Summit: ‘Women founders have secured only 2.6% of total venture capital funding’

Panel discussion on ‘Examining the gender funding gap and the VC monoculture’ at DealStreetAsia’s annual flagship Asia Private Equity-Venture Capital 2017

Only 2.6 per cent of the total venture capital funding has gone to women entrepreneurs, according to Sarah Chen, Corporate Investments & Ventures, Sime Darby and co-founder of Asia Women Circle.

Funding to female founders is $1.46 billion compared to a sum of $58.2 billion for male founders, Chen said, addressing a session on ‘Examining the gender funding gap and the VC monoculture’ speaking at Dealstreetasia’s annual flagship Asia Private Equity-Venture Capital 2017 Summit on Friday.

Regarding the number of women at the decision making table in VC firms, she said it has decreased from 10 per cent in 1999 to around 7 per cent in 2017.

“If we don’t change, the number will continue to go down,” she urged.

SoGal Ventures founding partner Pocket Sun opined that women were not getting the access to funding as men did. She sees it as a vicious circle, in which the modest capital for female means little chance to create women-led unicorns, while VCs would not invest because they have not seen such unicorns.

“We should encourage women to ask for the funding that they need,” added Chen.

Meanwhile, Prerna Bhutani, partner at India Quotient, who joined Chen and Sun at the summit, said investors did not judge whether the founder is a man or woman, but if he or she could push the business forward.

“But the number of women entrepreneurs is becoming fewer, and we need to think about why,” she noted.

When it comes to the decision making position in VC firms, the panelists agreed that women need to actively advocate their role.

“We should promote diversity within management,” said Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO of Cradle Seed Ventures, the VC arm with 30 per cent female representation on the board.

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