Billion Dollar Fund for Women Expands to Canada

It is a well-understood fact that there is a clear lack of diversity when it comes to gender representation in VC firms.

Billion Dollar Fund for Women is looking to even the tables by increasing total investments for women-led companies, and now the initiative has come to Canada to recruit local VC firms. The fund will be led in Canada by Lally Rementilla, the president of Quantius, a Toronto-based IP lender.

The fund will ask for pledges from VCs, usually ranging from $1 million to $100 million, with the goal of reaching their titular $1 billion total. That money will go towards investing in women-led companies, and the VCs that pledge will have until the end of 2020 to follow through. The pledge has raised $650 million so far around the world.

So far, Cycle Capital Management, Ecofuel Fund, Marigold Capital, Pique Ventures and StandUp Ventures have agreed to participate, as well as Quantius.

There is a wide gap when it comes to funding raised by women-led companies and their male counterparts. In Canada, only five per cent of companies have a sole female founder, and around 30 per cent of Canadian VC firms have a woman as a partner, according to a 2017 #movethedial report. Billion Dollar Fund for Women also cites Pitchbook data showing that only two per cent of disbursements go to women-founded companies according to data from 2017. That number is slowly improving, but not fast enough.

Over the past few years, there have been a few attempts from Canadian industry leaders to remedy the problem, but Billion Dollar Fund for Women is looking to bring awareness to every single VC in the country. In 2017, BDC announced a $70 million Women in Tech investment program, and have since doled out several investments to companies such as AvenueHQ, Unsplash, and tealbook.

“The Women in Tech fund, what it’s doing for Canada is that it’s giving an equal playing field to women when it comes to these larger seed rounds,” Rebecca Troelstra told Techvibes a few months ago. Troelstra is the co-founder of AvenueHQ. “Sure, there are fewer women out there raising capital, but when they do raise, it’s smaller rounds.”

The fund also states that businesses founded by women ultimately deliver higher revenue, so their goal to bring on new VCs may be an inviting one.