Women represent the largest market opportunity and control $20 trillion in annual spending, as reported at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January. Women, particularly black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, and women-led businesses are outperforming their male peers in many venture capital (VC) portfolios.
Investors must be seizing this incredible opportunity, right? Wrong.
Female founders only received 2.2 percent of VC dollars in 2017, as reported by Fortune. That’s $1.9 billion out of the $85 billion that was invested in total. The average deal size for a woman-led company was just over $5 million. For companies led by men, that number was almost $12 million. Funding for women of color is less equitable. In 2017, there were almost 7,000 startups that had at least one women founder, but less than 4 percent were led by Black women. When it comes to tech specifically, black women have raised only .0006 percent of all venture funding since 2009, as reported by ProjectDiane 2018.
At AnitaB.org we envision a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for whom they build it. We bring together tech makers, policy makers and philanthropists to highlight innovations and programs developed by women. We hope the tech community will continue to amplify these efforts. AnitaB.org supports the rise of funding to women-led businesses and initiatives to address systemic barriers to advancement and parity.
Level the playing field
One disruptor produced by AnitaB.org that has an immediate impact for women tech entrepreneurs is a program called PitcHER, which provides access and opportunity to women of all backgrounds. In addition to raising awareness for the lack of funding for women entrepreneurs, it also provides resources for building their technology businesses. The inaugural PitcHER competition was held at Grace Hopper Celebration last year and will again be featured at the 2019 celebration in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 2-4.
Participating technology entrepreneurs are introduced to a panel of investors who are looking to support, and make funding more accessible to, women-owned businesses. Companies will compete in various categories for prize money to fund their business development. Each company will pitch its unique potential to a panel of investors. Last year, 155 entrepreneurs submitted applications to the first-ever PitcHER competition and this year we expect to have even more. Applications will go live at the end of March.
PitcHER is a tangible solution, produced by AnitaB.org in partnership with digitalundivided, that provides a platform for women tech entrepreneurs to gain the exposure and funding they need and deserve.