BDC increases pledge to invest in female-led tech companies to $70 million


It seems like all the recent focus on gender parity in tech is starting to lead to more affirmative action.

The federal government is expanding its venture-capital funding to female-led startups thanks to visibility from the Boardlist’s list of top Canadian women in tech (of which one of our WMNinTECH Magaly Charbonneau made the cut) and mounting concerns that women are underrepresented in senior roles at tech companies.

BDC announced last Wednesday that it will be committing an additional $20 million to its Women in Tech investment program,  building on the $50 million committed in 2016 for investment in female-led technology firms. That brings the total size of the fund to $70 million, to be invested over five years.

“BDC has a bold vision: To foster the creation of the next generation of successful Canadian women technology entrepreneurs,” said Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech at BDC. “We believe it is our combination of smart capital, entrepreneurial thinking, strong relationships, and a long term approach that will help women tech entrepreneurs build and scale the next generation of companies.”

Of the $70 million fund, $60 million will be dedicated to direct investments to support women-led tech firms. The program, which is managed by BDC Capital, will invest equity at the seed stage, Series A stage, and sometimes at the Series B stage, either as part of a syndicate or as a lead investor. The remaining $10 million will go to indirect investments to regional initiatives, including a $5 million commitment made toward the first close of the female-oriented StandUp Ventures Fund I, managed by the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and led by Michelle McBane.

“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs as they work to find the support they need to start and grow their businesses. With the additional investment announced today, BDC’s funding envelope to support Women in Tech becomes the largest of its kind in North America,” said Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Since the fund’s inception last November, BDC has completed nine investments in female-led tech firms totalling close to $3 million. The most recent investment is part of $5 million venture funding by Nudge Rewards, a Toronto company that provides an employee app and analytics platform for brands to engage, educate, and ultimately reward frontline managers and associates to drive company performance.

The funding increase comes less than a month after #MoveTheDial, a joint study from PwC Canada and MaRS Discovery District that found only 5% of tech CEO roles in Canada are filled by women. Even more startling, more than half of tech companies have no women in management, and 73% have no women on their boards.


Photo: ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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