The Challenges Female Entrepreneurs Face in the Search for Startup Capital
There is a documented gender gap in funding for female-led startups. Pemo Theodore’s search for investment capital is a good example of the difficult journey some female entrepreneurs have experienced. She spent five long years in London trying to find support for a digital matchmaking startup and came away with nothing to show for it. The disparity in access to venture capital is troubling considering a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation study recently revealed that women-led startups have the potential to transform our current economic landscape and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Forbes featured an article recently documenting Theodore’s mission to learn more about the challenges women encounter in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams:
“My story is only one of many. Very early on in that journey, I had committed to help women source venture when I was successful. As it turned out, I have been doing just that for the last year – not because I was successful but because I failed. Possibly, if I had been successful, I would never have had the time to accomplish a project like this. I have been video interviewing venture capitalists, angel investors and women founders on the shortfall in funding for women. My goal has been to listen to as many people as I could from both sides of the table, so I could hopefully determine where all these conversations intersected.”
Theodore interviewed dozens of venture capitalists, female founders and tech industry experts (both female and male), quizzing them on the challenges facing female founders and soliciting their perspectives on what was driving the female funding shortfall. In the end, she packaged a cross-section of these interviews into an e-book. The conclusions that Theodore arrived at via her project aren’t news to women currently working in the male-dominated tech field or trying to get a fledgling business off the ground – the differences in how men and women are socialized show up in business, sexual harassment and discrimination is still an issue, the nature of start-up culture may not align well with a female founder’s family life and obligations and that women are underrepresented as both venture capitalists and angel investors were points that came up again and again.
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