Sequoia India launches Spark Fellowship and expanded programmes to support women entrepreneurs

To bring in more gender diversity and power to women led startups, Sequoia Capital had started Sequoia Spark, a year-long programme designed to inspire more women in India and Southeast Asia to become entrepreneurs.
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Sequoia Capital has announced the launch of Sequoia Spark, a year-long programme combining capital and deep, immersive mentorship, designed to inspire more women in India and Southeast Asia to become entrepreneurs.

Highlighting the core aspects of the fellowship, a note from the company said:

The Sequoia Spark Fellowship will give 15, no strings attached $100,000 grants to women-led, early-stage startups. Applications for these are now open. The cohort kicks off in November, 2021. It will provide deep, immersive 1:1 mentorship for 12 months from a group of founders, Sequoia India investment advisors and Sequoia specialists across India and South East Asia.

Image: Recode

It also provides a series of conversations in Spark Talks with global women leaders, and company-building deep dives called Spark Studios that are open to women founders across the region. 

The programme has outlined close to 20 hours of virtual 1:1 informal coffee-chats every month (250 hours committed every year) on top-of-mind business issues with the Sequoia investment advisory team, open to women founders who are not part of our portfolio.

"Our goal is to encourage more women to build companies, to inspire more women to lead and build for the future. This is just a small step in that direction for us," it stated in the note.

We need to do more, as an ecosystem. Just 12 percent of venture-backed startups in India and 20 percent in ASEAN have at least one female founder, as of 2020, according to data sourced from Tracxn and Crunchbase, the note further stated.

But in the past year, we surveyed over 200 women founders across India and SEA to know what their biggest challenges are when it comes to company-building. Spark had its origins in a women founder focused office-hours offering prior to 2020.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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