Catching up with Billion Dollar Fund Co-Founder Sarah Chen & MENA Update
By Erin Hobey / Crowdfund insider
The Billion Dollar Fund for Women (TBDF), founded by Shelly Porges, Sarah Chen, Anousheh Ansari, Nadereh Chamlou and Anu Jain, aims to mobilize and connect venture funds with institutional and other investors to create larger pools of capital for investments into women-founded companies. The global venture consortium’s funds aim to tackle the gender funding gap.
TBDF is continuing to strengthen its global footprint, widening its investor base by tapping into new markets and mobilizing the local investor scene to gender-diversify their portfolios. Since hitting the US$500M milestone in pledges only 3 weeks after its official launch in October 2018, TBDF has secured an additional US$7oM in pledges by Dubai-based venture capital firms Mindshift Capital and Global Ventures, and Cairo-based Flat6Labs.
“We are investing in women-led tech companies in the MENA region because they deliver high financial returns and are often undervalued. Arab women entrepreneurs represent an integral part of founders in the region and tend to build businesses around problems that they face in their lives,” noted Heather Henyon, Founding General Partner of Mindshift Capital. As a women-led fund manager based in the region, we understand and value these opportunities.”
Dina el-Shenoufy, Flat6Labs CIO, added,
“Females represent 50% of the world’s population yet their participation in the workforce is nowhere even close to that percentage. Through greater efforts to invest in females we help unlock an enormous economic benefit currently totally under utilised. We owe it to ourselves to change this.”
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, only 14% of entrepreneurs are women compared to a global average of 17%.1.
“This lower rate of female founders in the region could be attributed to the lower percentage of women in the finance and investment space, but also to a subconscious bias that women-led companies might not be able to keep up with male-run startups and teams,” commented Nadereh Chamlou, Co-Founder at TBDF and former Senior Advisor of the World Bank at the MENA-OECD Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum.
However, statistics show that women-founded and led companies with diverse teams deliver a 60% higher return compared to male-only teams:
“The Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) has long advanced female founders for support from its global network of banks and other international institutions supporting women,” elucidated TBDF Co-Founder and Managing Partner Shelly Porges. “Women entrepreneurs in MENA are innovating in a wide array of sectors including education, food, healthcare, agriculture, blockchain and much more. We are pleased to be part of the ecosystem that is changing the paradigm for women in MENA.”
The Billion Dollar Fund for Women is continuing to look for institutional investors who are eager to support female-founded companies and to gender-diversify their portfolios. Crowdfund Insider recently reached out to TBDF Co-Founder and Managing Partner Sarah Chen via email for a quick update about the continuing raise:
CI: How will TBDF affect women in fintech, crypto, altfin?
TBDF Co-Founder and Managing Partner Sarah Chen: TBDF’s primary message is that “when you invest in women, you’re in good company.” TBDF aims to draw awareness to the success of all women-founded companies, which include women in finech, crypto and altfin which will continue to shape the future of innovation. In fact, Sarah, one of our co-founders currently serves full time as Chief Strategy Officer of a US-based blockchain technology company, Bloxed, and we believe she will continue to advocate for women in technology as fundamental in shaping our digital future.
CI: What are some lasting effects TBDF has on the life of women/female founders?
Sarah: TBDF takes a macro approach, and ultimately addresses the funding ecosystem to develop a larger pool of capital allocated to women-founded companies. We believe this will have a lasting effect in funds committed to women entrepreneurs. In the future, there will be an opportunity to highlight our WFCs at our convenings.