The Female Funding Fight

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Here’s why I started a women-focused venture capital fund.

One of the most significant challenges as a female entrepreneur, today and every day since the beginning of the universe, has been getting access to capital. I think there are two reasons for it. On the one side, not enough women are thinking big enough. And to be investable, you typically have to build a business that is thinking really big and has the potential for scale, and can really grow so an investor can make money.

The flip side is that the investment world is largely dominated by male investors. Whether we think of ourselves as biased or not, all of us unconsciously tend to want to invest in people who look and sound like us, and maybe we can connect and understand the problem that someone is trying to solve because it affects us. There’s a large degree of bias in the system.

Because 98% of funding goes to men, and almost 90% of funding is allocated by men, women tend to get left behind.

I didn’t understand what it took to build, scale, and grow a business until someone pointed out to me that I had a concept that could scale, become really big, and do something much larger than myself. So, I think for women it often takes a little poke to help you realize you could — because it doesn’t necessarily cross our minds. We have a lot of responsibilities. We have children to take care of, homes to run, and families to manage — as well as work. Sometimes it takes a shift in thinking it is possible and this is what it could look like, and this is how I would do it.

I have a small venture capital fund, Enygma Ventures, focused on investing in women exclusively in Africa. So that’s really our thesis and our theory of change; the nebulous is that money is power and that money has the ability to change the world, and where we invest can either move us forward or move us backward. So, it’s our idea, and many other people like me have a philosophy around not just driving a financial return, but also driving impact. More money will flow if we can do good and do well at the same time. But where that came from for me was my own frustration of being a female entrepreneur and finding it very difficult to raise capital, but also having a passion for emerging markets.

Around less than 2% of all women-owned businesses make more than a million dollars a year, and so we have to start shifting those metrics.

We have to start helping women think about doing more than that and building something bigger themselves because it matters. It matters that we show up, have a seat at the table, and contribute to solutions that we have to bring to the world, and it matters that we do that at scale.

Sarah Dusek is the co-founder of Enygma Ventures, The Quiver Tree Collection, and Under Canvas.

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