I hope the next unicorn founder is a Vijaya Shekhar Sharma: Anisha Singh, Founder, MyDala
For a few years now, Anisha Singh, founder of merchant marketing platform MyDala, has been a flag bearer and champion for women entrepreneurs.
Anisha, who has been encouraging and mentoring women to choose the C-Suite and take up more leadership roles, has now announced the launch of a women focussed investment fund - She Capital.
Currently sector agnostic, She Capital is focussed on investing in startups with either women as sole founders or who are part of the co-founding team. The fund is focussed on investing in early-stage startups, and has a total corpus of around Rs 200 crore. The Limited Partners (LP) of the fund include institutional funds and family offices.
A women-focussed fund
Speaking about She Capital, Anisha says: “We will also be co-investing in startups in different rounds. The fund will work like any other investment firm and follow the investment thesis.”
A consumer tech founder herself, Anisha says consumer tech will be one sector that they will look at closely.
But why a women-focussed investment fund? Anisha explains that the genesis of the idea happened a few years ago.
“There is a 170-year gender gap between men and women, and this isn’t just in terms of jobs or salaries. The difference is across the board,” says Anisha.
Anisha explains that after being part of several panels and talks and pushing women entrepreneurs, she felt she needed to do something on the ground.
“Sitting on the panel and giving talks isn’t the only way. I deeply felt I needed to really do something for women entrepreneurs in India, something that changes the numbers. I needed to do something on a larger scale,” says Anisha.
A Harvard Business Review report, which cited an analysis by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), shows that if both men and women participated equally as entrepreneurs, the global GDP would rise to six percent from the current three percent, taking the global economy to a whopping $5 trillion.
But the report added that the investments made in companies founded or co-founded by women averaged at $935,000, which is less than half the average of $2.1 million invested in their male counterparts. Surprisingly, this disparity existed despite women-led firms performing better over time, generating a 10 percent higher cumulative revenue over a five-year period.
All these studies and reports added on to Anisha’s drive to do something in the space. Having worked for the Clinton Administration and helping women entrepreneurs in the Valley, Anisha felt there was a need to do something for women entrepreneurs in India.
She put out a post on professional social networking platform LinkedIn asking women entrepreneurs what kind of help and resources they needed? This was in 2017.
She asked: “Can women entrepreneurs give a shoutout and I want to hear from everyone and are there enough women entrepreneurs?”
“I haven’t gone on LinkedIn out of sheer drive to first do something. I had over a million views on that one post. Everyone wrote asking if I was doing something, and I realised there were more women entrepreneurs that we knew of, and the representation that the other side had was far too few,” says Anisha.
I hope the next unicorn founder is a Vijaya Shekhar Sharma, she says.
Does having women-led funds help?
While it is understood there is a need for more investment in women-led firms, can’t the existing funds do the same? As the core purpose of an investment firm is also to give returns to their LPs. There are also other funds like Saha Fund, which was founded in 2015 by Ankita Vashistha.
“The idea is also about women investing in women and together building high growth companies. It is not that every company will get funded. The idea is to understand both sides of the table with an unbiased view,” says Anisha.
A Harvard Business Review report by Kamal Hassan, Monisha Varadan, and Claudia Zeisberg, says - “Women who venture into entrepreneurship are not poised to get a fair deal. From our perspective, bias within the VC industry is preventing funds from being allocated to the best investment opportunities.”
To serve this purpose, there are several Valley-based VC funds like Fika Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Glasswing Ventures, and Halogen Ventures to name a few. She Capital is India’s step to change the status quo.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)