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More investment needed in female-led firms

A move towards investing in more female-led vehicles is needed, according to the industry group European Women in VC.

As reported on Pitchbook, the group is calling for companies to boost and support female-led startups. The report states that only 0.7% of all the capital invested within Europe in the last year has gone to companies with female founders, with further data suggesting that only a tenth of European VCs have a mixed-sex general partnership team.

Focus needs to go beyond start-ups

In a report the European Women in VC group presented to the European Commission, it said its ultimate goal was to have 30% of capital go to women-led vehicles within the next three-to-five years. The group made a number of suggestions towards achieving gender parity.

Among them was a €3bn European fund-of-funds to anchor women-led VC and growth vehicles, alongside an EU-level co-investment fund to match VC funding for female founders.

“There’s been decades of work to make the industry more inclusive on the startup level, but little has changed,” said Kinga Stanislawska, managing general partner of Experior VC and founder of European Women in VC. “That means there’s something wrong in the way money is being allocated. Everything starts at the top, with the person who allocates the cash. And as the largest anchor investor of Europe, we want to bring the EIF on board and work with them to make sure that the money that they’re allocating has no gender lens.”

Tangible, financial benefits

There have been other moves towards gender parity in recent weeks. Last week, the Financial Times reported on the ‘Carmen strategy’, currently being put together by UBS. That portfolio looks to invest in a number of female-led entities through a private placement fund that is based in the US but nonetheless will still be open to European investors.

UBS was contacted for this story, but said it could not comment due to SEC rules around the marketing and publicisation of private placement funds.

Likewise, Expert Investor could not speak directly to Claire Tucker at UBS, who is leading the Carmen strategy. However, Tucker took part in a webinar in June where she spoke about the benefits of diversity within the industry.

She said: “I would like to point out that we don’t think it’s purely an impact aim. There are real benefits to having more diversification in hedge fund portfolios and via this effort, we can offer clients access to some more idiosyncratic alpha streams. And that’s actually well borne out in the correlation data. The HFRI Women-Led Hedge Fund Index has been performing well in terms of lower downside capture to the MCI world in negative months.”

Pete Carvill

Pete Carvill is a reporter, writer, and editor based in Berlin who has been writing for the B2B and mainstream media since 2007. He is a contributing writer for Expert Investor and, in addition, has...

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