Astia is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to getting female entrepreneurs to the metaphorical ball. Its network is comprised of 4,000 members around the world, including investors, entrepreneurs, and executives. It also has programs that encourage women’s full participation in the startup ecosystem by providing access to capital, ensuring sustainable high-growth, and developing their leadership skills. This latest initiative seeks to promote angel investment in women-led ventures to support their ideas, development, and possibilities for growth.
“High-growth entrepreneurship is a part of the economy where women don’t really participate,” said CEO Sharon Vosmek in an interview with VentureBeat. “Entrepreneurship is a deeply male place. Men and women exist in separate business networks and we look at this as an opportunity to build trusted business networks between men and women so it results not only in venture investment, but all subsequent business relationships that lead to big success.”
As a journalist who writes extensively about startups and venture capital, I notice that absence of female subjects every day. The technology industry is dominated by men, and yet research shows that companies with female executives out perform companies with male executives.
The Dow Jones report “Women at the Wheel: Do female executives drive start-up success?” examined the current state of women in U.S. venture-backed companies and how women in leadership roles affect the success of a startup. The study looked at 15 years of company data in the VentureSource database and found that the proportion of female executives is higher at successful companies than at unsuccessful companies and a company’s odds for success increase with more females holding high-level positions.
Many things could be behind these correlations. Diverse teams generally perform better, and in a country where women are primarily responsible the allocation of “home capital,” an intimate understanding of their needs and user behavior is an advantage for any business.
“At Astia, we know that women-led companies are a great opportunity for investors, but the venture capital that goes into women-led companies directly mirrors the percentage of women in venture capital- between 3 percent to 5 percent,” Vosmek said. “Our model is building deep, trusted business relationships between entrepreneurs, the investment community, and the business ecosystems. We are at a tipping point where I think we will see change.”
Angel investors are often entrepreneurs who met with success and choose to put their dollars and expertise back into the ecosystem. It is a cycle where you need successful entrepreneurs to create angel investors and angel investors to create successful entrepreneurs. Astia is waving its wand in both directions, but like in Cinderella, the fairy godmother can’t do everything. It is still up to Cinderella to start companies.