Finance is an industry with few women and Venture Capital is no exception. They are scarcely found on startup boards, startup pitch nights and VC advisory committees.
According to the joint findings of Boston Consulting Group and Sista, women make up just 14% of all partners in the top VC firms in France; half of which have no female partners. Incidentally, only 2% of all VC investment since 2008 has gone to French-backed female-only founder teams.
Encouragingly, over the past few years, a host of new initiatives have sprung up supporting diversity and strengthening the presence of women in the industry.
The world’s largest global directory for women in venture capital to find each other, connect, and collaborate.
The Global directory of Women in VC is one such example. Created by Jessica Peltz-Zatulove and Sutian Dong, it’s the world’s largest directory for women in Venture Capital — which includes 1,700+ female investors across 46 countries. Their mission is to give women around the world the tools to better find each other, connect, and collaborate. This is how we connected with Costanza (Cathay Innovation) — having recently moved to Paris from the US — who wanted to meet other VCs.
In many cities across the globe, VC women meet through local communities — take Berlin, for example: meetups are organized every other month by Marie (Fly Ventures). There was nothing like this in the French capital.
That’s why we decided to build the first community of female VCs in Paris
We started by cold-emailing all the women in Paris-based VCs with a call to action — and we were thrilled with the number of positive responses! Gabrielle (Blackfin Capital) implemented a communication channel whilst Cecilia (Daphni) and Edna (360 Capital Partners) told us about their initiative with Tatiana (Sista) of launching office hours and meetups to support female founders in partnership with VCs.
We gave the community a name — Paris VC Ladies — and organized an official launch event on September 25, 2019 in which 100+ women with varying levels of seniority came together. It was the perfect opportunity to explain everything from the reasons for creating, and purpose of the community, through to the long-term plans to support diversity and inclusion.
We wanted to answer two questions:
1 — How can we thrive in a male-dominated industry?
2 — What can we do to support and empower female entrepreneurs?
We were honored to welcome Roxanne Varza (Director of Station F), entrepreneur Caroline Ramade (CEO of 50inTech) and investor Valentine de Lasteyrie (Partner at Fiblac and co-leader of Sista), who shared their success stories and engagement to close the gender gap. Their speeches were then followed by enthusiastic discussions about our next steps over refreshments and appetizers from Le Vélo du Soir.
So, what are the next steps we outlined?
- To arrange quarterly drinks to continue inspiring one another
- To organize training workshops delivered by partners of the community
- To help the community flourish by encouraging active involvement in sharing content (articles, recruitment and investment opportunities) through the Paris VC Ladies’ communication channel
- To support (in partnership with Sista) promising female entrepreneurs by giving them advice on their business plans and pitches
We truly believe the challenge of empowering female entrepreneurs and investors is one and the same. That is why Paris VC Ladies will be partnering with existing initiatives already supporting women entrepreneurs such as Sista, StartHer, Willa, etc.
We would like to thank French Tech Central, for kindly offering to host the event, and VC sponsors Aster, Blackfin Capital, Cathay Innovation, Demeter and Educapital for their support — without whom, this event would not have been possible.