Billion Dollar Fund for Women, a global initiative that aims to increase investment in women-founded companies, has arrived in Canada to recruit local venture firms.
The launch was announced by Lally Rementilla, the fund’s Canada lead and president of Quantius, a Toronto intellectual-property lender and one of the fund’s early supporters.
Rementilla told PE Hub Canada that the fund is looking to spread awareness in Canada about the gender financing gap.
It also offers a plan of action involving pledges by VC firms to invest a portion of their capital in tech startups created by female entrepreneurs.
Established in 2018 at the annual meetings of the IMF/World Bank, Billion Dollar Fund asks for pledges from VC firms, typically ranging $1 million to $100 million, with the goal of reaching US$1 billion in all.
The goal itself is nominal, as pledges essentially commit investors to deploying the amounts independently by financing women-founded companies. Once signed up, they have until December 2020 to follow through.
“Fundamentally, it’s about the intent,” Rementilla said, noting that the fund has so far raised US$650 million in pledges, mostly from small and midsized VC firms worldwide.
Along with Quantius, Canadian investors that have pledged to the fund include Cycle Capital Management, Ecofuel Fund, Marigold Capital, Pique Ventures and StandUp Ventures.
In addition to securing specific dollar commitments from VC firms, Billion Dollar Fund seeks to make investment processes more receptive to women-founded companies, Rementilla said.
Pledges ask investors to account for female entrepreneurs in their deal sourcing and ensure opportunities are highlighted to investment committees. VC firms are also encouraged to reinvest in women-founded companies.
On top of this, investors are asked to provide constructive feedback to female entrepreneurs after pitches, including if opportunities are declined.
Rementilla says this approach enables practical changes in dealmaking processes, helping pledging VC firms “set themselves up for success.” For some, this may eventually include bringing on a female principal.
While female entrepreneurs are gaining profile in the VC market, data show the dollar flows remain heavily skewed to men. The fund cites Pitchbook data showing only 2 percent of disbursements going to women-founded companies in 2017.
Rementilla is working with a network of regional leads to introduce Billion Dollar Fund to Canada’s venture industry.
They include Andrée-Lise Méthot, managing partner of Cycle Capital, who is the Montréal lead, and Jonathan Hera, managing partner of Marigold Capital, who is the Toronto lead.
Rementilla’s career includes roles as a tech executive and angel investor.
Prior to joining Quantius in 2015, she was vice president of finance and administration at Nulogy, a supply-chain software provider. Before then, she held the same role at Lavalife, an online dating services provider, sold in 2004 to MemberWorks for $152 million.