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UPDATE (14 August 2019): We neglected to include Smartblade’s R9.5-million investment from Savant in the below list. We have updated the list as well as the below figures relating to the amount and percentage of all venture capital that went to SA startups with women founders.
What percentage of annual venture capital (VC) and angel investment goes to SA tech startups founded by women?
No one seems to know. But it may be as little as 4.5% of all disclosed deals concluded in SA since 1 January 2018.
Ventureburn contacted several experts in the country’s tech startup sector, including the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (Savca).
But no one was able to say what percentage of angel and VC deals do women-owned and founded startups make up in South Africa.
As little as 4.5% of all disclosed SA tech startup deals since 1 January 2018 involved female founders
In the absence of any authoritative SA figures, Ventureburn set to work crunching the number on the disclosed deals the publication has reported on since 1 January 2018.
Not all deals go announced, as some investors or startups want to continue to operate under the radar, or just don’t wish to or see the need to make them public.
R77.7m in eight disclosed deals
Ventureburn identified R77.7-million in eight disclosed deals concluded since the beginning of 2018 involving SA tech startups (software technology companies no older than seven years) with women founders (see this story which lists the startups involved).
This is out of a total of over R1.7-billion (we used the rand-dollar exchange rate at the time of each deal) in 34 deals that were disclosed involving SA tech startups over the same period of time (see this story and this one — which cover all the disclosed deals until June 30, 2019).
Startups with women founders therefore make up just 3.8% of the value of all VC and angel deals disclosed since the beginning of 2018.
The R77.7-million includes SweepSouth‘s R30-million investment from Naspers Foundry earlier this year, R20-million raised by insurtech Naked earlier this year, Smartblade’s R9.5-million raise, R3.4-million raised by Voyc.ai, R12-million raised by DigsConnect, Zelda Learning’s (now called Zomila) two injections of R500 000 each and Jumpin Rides‘ R1.8-million in investment.
Insurtech Yalu also has a women founder, but the startup did not disclose how much it raised from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) when it took a 30% stake in the business last year (see this story and this one).
Women got just 2.2% of VC in US
The 4.5% could be a fair reflection of the level of angel and VC funding that goes to SA tech startups with women founders.
While there appears to be little or not data for South Africa on the level of investment women-founded tech startups get, Fortune magazine reported in an article in January that in 2018, companies in the US led by women or with an all-women team of founders netted only 2.2% of the $130-billion recorded VC funding for the year.
Commenting in an email, Savca’s manager of research and communications Bulhe Ndweni said the association’s annual VC Survey currently does not go into that level of detail.
“We will discuss this with our research partner to explore if we can include these parameters in future VC surveys as it will be interesting to see the level of investments linked to women-owned startups,” she added.
This, while venture capitalist Andrea Bohmert (pictured above) said the level of investment in tech startups with women founders is something a number of people are trying to put a number to.
“There are a number of investor WhatsApp groups where similar questions are asked and nobody has comprehensive statistics,” added Bohmert, who is a managing partner at VC Knife Capital.
‘Optimistic about more women founders’
Bohmert said while the number of female entrepreneurs is on the increase, many women are running successful services or product businesses, which however don’t really fit the scalable business model that most investors are looking for.
“I think that is one reason why as an industry in general, we don’t see that many majority female-owned VC funded businesses. As a woman myself, I am naturally eager to change this,” she added.
She said there are a number of tech initiatives currently on the go where female tech entrepreneurs receive mentorship and support to get them investment ready.
Said Bohmert: “I am therefore very optimistic that the founder-profile of tech companies is changing to include more female founded businesses in the not too distant future”.
Featured image: Knife Capital managing partner Andrea Bohmert (Supplied)