TORONTO, April 24, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - BDC Capital's Women in Technology (WIT) Venture Fund has completed its first year of investments since the size of the fund almost tripled to $200 million, making it the largest venture fund of its kind. In a building year where the team updated the fund's strategy to reflect its new size and potential, they still invested $14 million in 19 companies bringing the total direct investment to more than $17 million.
"Our mandate is to support and grow great women leaders in tech and in venture, and lead by example so other funds follow," said Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments, BDC Capital. "In the past year, we reviewed more than 1,000 women-led tech companies. What it reinforces to me is that the number of women choosing entrepreneurship in technology and innovation is growing in Canada and we are just seeing the beginning of women playing strong leadership roles in tech enterprise."
In addition to direct investment, in the past year the fund has hosted a trade mission to China and other markets, launched a scholarship for a female investor in a venture capital firm to attend the Kauffman Fellows Program, introduced a Women in Tech Bootcamp for 200+ women from across the country, referred hundreds of companies to other capital opportunities, established new partnerships and hosted dozens of workshops and networking events to connect women in tech and women investors.
"There is nowhere near enough diversity in our workplaces, particularly in tech and investment teams. The Women in Technology Venture Fund is a game-changer in Canada. The fund's size and team, combined with its focus on diversity, bring together all the right elements to impact real change. We are already seeing the ripple effects across Canada," stated Whitney Rockley, Managing Partner of McRock Capital and the first woman chair of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.
The companies WIT Fund invests in are led or co-led by women who bring together the right technology, team and resources to create companies that transform or disrupt today's markets. Those companies span the country and touch a variety of industries from fintech, to medtech, to manufacturing. They range from seed stage to Series A and B with revenues between $500,000 and $30 million. In the past two months, the fund has been a lead or co-lead investor on funding closes for Sampler and Bridgit.
The $200 million in capital is being deployed through investment and ecosystem development. The majority is being invested directly into high-growth companies along their life cycle allowing companies to scale globally at the right pace. A portion is also being used to develop a self-sustaining ecosystem for women in technology and venture that provides mentorship, networking, and tools to ensure they thrive.
"The government launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy because we believe that women's economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do but it's also good for the bottom line" said the Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion. "BDC Capital's Women in Technology Venture Fund supports women in building and scaling up their businesses, while also empowering the next generation of women business leaders."
In addition to the WIT Fund, BDC has made a commitment to support women entrepreneurs and has earmarked $1.4 billion in lending for women-led businesses by 2021. To see the full list of companies the WIT Fund has invested in please visit www.bdc.ca/womenintech.
About BDC Capital
BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC- Canada's only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. With $3 billion under management, BDC Capital serves as a strategic partner to the country's most innovative firms. It offers a full spectrum of risk capital, from seed investments to transition capital, supporting Canadian entrepreneurs who wish to scale their businesses into global champions. Visit bdc.ca/capital.
"Having BDC Capital's Women in Technology Venture Fund (WIT) as a lead investor was a key ingredient in attracting a top tier investor syndicate for our Series A. Their early interest helped the round come together quickly which enabled Bridgit to begin executing on our 2019 plan with the capital required to make major moves in the construction industry. Thanks to WIT financing, Bridgit will be launching a transformational product for the industry later this spring that will impact the construction market across Canada and the US." Mallorie Brodie, Co-founder and CEO, Bridgit
"The investment Finn AI received from the BDC Capital Women in Technology Venture Fund has allowed us to fast track the innovative work we're doing with our digital-first customers such as TymeBank in South Africa. Working together, we recently launched Max, an AI-powered chatbot that reduces the overall cost for banks to serve their customers, making it possible to offer banking services to a new segment of South Africans." Natalie Cartwright, Co-founder & COO, Finn AI
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
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