Astia launches venture fund investing in women-led startups

Mastercard is lead investor in $100m fund

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Less than 2% of venture capital was invested into women CEOs in 2020, according to Astia research
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Less than 2% of venture capital was invested into women CEOs in 2020, according to Astia research

A $100m early-stage venture fund which will invest globally in high-growth companies that have at least one woman in an executive equity-holding position has been launched by Silicon Valley-headquartered Astia.

The Astia fund has been led by an investment from Mastercard, with additional investors including Priya Mathur, past president of the board of CalPERS; Jim O'Neill, former chief economist and former chairman of asset management at Goldman Sachs, Farvatn Venture, Portola Creek Capital and Tides Foundation; and several members of Toniic, a global network of impact investors.

Astia CEO Sharon Vosmek said: "There is a great deal of talk about inclusion and women within venture capital, but VCs need to do what they do best - invest."

Fixing a broken system: Tomorrow's economy demands a new venture capital model

According to Astia, in 2020 less than 9% of venture capital was invested into companies that included women anywhere in the founding or leadership team and less than 2% was invested into women CEOs.

The new offering from Astia aims to address the disparity in funding for companies that include women in founding or executive roles.

"With this new fund, Astia systematically invests in underinvested, yet out performing companies - where women are rightly in positions of power, equity and influence. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it creates better companies and delivers stronger returns," Vosmek added.

The new fund is open to UK institutional investors, family offices, corporates, foundations, endowments, pension funds and high-net worth individuals.

Larry Bettino, board chair of Astia, said there was "no excuse" for a ten-to-one disadvantage in institutional funding for women-run businesses. 

Bettino added: "Limited Partners should do their part by expecting their VC funds address this issue as well as Astia has."  

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