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New report reveals how venture capital firms can level the playing field for Black women

Astia shares findings of three-year pilot and how to remove bias at the point of investment

Astia, the twenty year old organization dedicated to leveling the investment playing field through intentional investment in women-led companies, has today released its findings from a three-year pilot. The pilot was launched when Astia first uncovered a racial bias within its investment decision-making process and it exposes the embedded biases that when removed, enable investment to flow into a more diverse portfolio.

The findings come off the back of a seminal year for Astia, which launched its $100M venture fund in 2021 and considered $3.024B worth of opportunities led by women – representing 1103 companies or a 119% increase – putting to rest any pipeline concerns that continue to resonate in the market. The Fund also closed its first four investments, with two of the four led by Black female CEOs – an exceptional result that stands apart from an industry that invests less than 0.34% into Black women.

“Opportunities in venture are about finding hidden gems,” commented Sharon Vosmek, Astia CEO & Fund Managing Partner. “Best in class venture seeks out the under invested, out performing companies that have the potential to change the world. In our efforts to find those hidden gems, we found an entire class of them right in our midst. While we were profoundly disappointed to learn that but for race, we probably would have invested in a number of companies that we did not, we were excited by the opportunity to correct for something we had complete control and agency over – our own investment decision.”

Astia’s findings are reported in a publication titled, Astia Edge, Our Failure to Invest in Black Founders and What We Have Done About It, that is available for download for the investment community. The report highlights that investment, advocacy and access are critical to leveling the playing field for Black female founders and the pilot demonstrated a 22x leverage on invested capital, along with portfolio companies raising >$5 million in outside investment.

Three years on since the pilot launched, Astia has implemented its learnings which is how, today, the Fund portfolio is 50% Black female CEOs and and 17% of the capital deployed since the pilot by the Astia Angels has gone into companies with Black female CEOs.

“What all investors should know is that, first and foremost, deals that have leadership that represent all of humanity exist in the market,” commented Priya Mathur, past President of the Board of CalPERS and current Astia Board Member. “And if they are not represented in your portfolio, the odds are that it is about you, your networks and your processes that have prevented you from seeing the full potential of these companies. It’s past time to change that.”

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