NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO, LONDON, 08 February 2021: Astia, the Silicon Valley-headquartered organization dedicated to leveling the investment playing field - and redefining the traditional venture capital landscape - has launched a $100M early-stage venture fund aimed at addressing the extraordinary disparity in funding for companies that include women in founding or executive roles.
Led by an investment from Mastercard, the Astia Fund will invest globally in high-growth companies that have at least one woman in an executive, equity-holding position. Additional investors include: Priya Mathur, past president of the board of CalPERS; Jim O’Neill former chief economist and former chairman of Asset Management at Goldman Sachs; Farvatn Venture; Portola Creek Capital; Tides Foundation; numerous members of Toniic, a global network of impact investors; and other notable LPs.
Since launching investment activity in 2013, Astia has invested over $27M in companies sourced by the Astia Expert Sift™ that is proven to eliminate gender, racial, age and geographic bias in the investment sourcing and screening process. Those companies have gone on to raise more than $450M. The Fund offers institutional investors the opportunity to invest in Sift-qualified companies and partner with Astia’s accomplished investment team, Sharon Vosmek, Victoria Pettibone, Evie Mulberry and Omar Ali.
Last year, Astia sourced companies raising more than one billion dollars. However, venture capital continues to fail to see these opportunities; in 2020 less than 9% of venture capital was invested into companies that included women anywhere in the founding or leadership team, less than 2% was invested into women CEOs.
Mastercard’s support for the Astia Fund builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to drive a more inclusive, sustainable digital economy, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.
“There is a great deal of talk about inclusion and women within venture capital, but VCs need to do what they do best – invest,” commented Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia. “With this new fund, Astia systematically invests in under-invested, yet out performing companies - where women are rightly in positions of power, equity and influence. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it creates better companies and delivers stronger returns.”
Larry Bettino, Board Chair, Astia and 30 year veteran of the venture capital industry said: “There is simply no excuse for there to be a ten-to-one disadvantage in institutional funding for women-run businesses. Limited Partners should do their part by expecting their VC funds address this issue as well as Astia has.”
Ann Cairns, Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard, said: “I am proud that Mastercard is the lead investor in Astia’s first venture fund. Too much of our world was designed without women in mind –and without women involved. Even today, inequality and exclusion still hold women back. That’s why Mastercard is forging ambitious partnerships and championing the people, businesses and innovations that are transforming the way our world works. We know that when women and underrepresented groups are at the leadership table these teams outperform for customers, investors and companies.”
Founded in 1999 as a nonprofit organization, Astia works globally to level the investment playing field for high-growth startups led by women.
Astia has pioneered a creative, proven approach for venture capital investment via the Astia Expert Sift™, a process developed to eradicate sources of bias that perpetuate gender and race disparities in funding, and to reliably identify and cultivate success for the highest potential ventures. The Astia Expert SiftTM, has been in use for the past 15 years and harnesses the wisdom of over 5,000 experts in the Astia community.
Inclusive teams outperform. With this as Astia's thesis and call to action, Astia now comprises a full spectrum of investment vehicles to fuel growth and demonstrate the investment opportunity of diverse teams: Astia Fund, Astia Angels, and Astia Edge.
With the Astia Fund, Astia further extends its thesis that investing in women entrepreneurs is an exceptional investment strategy.
For more information, visit www.astia.org.
About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.