Spring Activator launches Women-led Impact Investor Challenge to support the growth of women running impact-focused businesses

Fund Updates · Aug 2, 2022

On a mission to promote gender diversity within the impact investor and startup ecosystem, Spring Activator and the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good are launching their first Women-led Impact Investor Challenge. The challenge is set to run from September 15 to December 6, 2022 and seeks to facilitate connections between those looking for purpose-based investments with women founders working on solutions to local and global problems.

The Women-led IIC was created because women founders in Canada are still vastly underestimated. Women entrepreneurs receive 4 per cent of venture capital funding and women are under-represented among equity investors, representing only 15.2 per cent of Canadian VC partners and 16.7 per cent of Canadian angel investors. Women founders often create companies that address different sectors of the economy with strong opportunities for change. They face stronger biases than their male counterparts when raising funds and as a result, they lack the capital to grow their companies and increase the reach of their impact.

The Women-led IIC aims to fix this. With the challenge running for 11 weeks, culminating in an investment of approximately $100,000 into a statistically under-funded market. Investors and women founders will learn hand-in-hand as they go through the investment process and take action while supported by a community of like-minded peers and mentors.

To support the program, we have also partnered with the Canadian Women's Foundation and Impact United, to provide advice and expertise on how to best support women founders.

According to Sagal Dualeh, Director, Investment Readiness Program Canadians Women’s Foundation, "The Canadian Women's Foundation is pleased to support the Women-led Impact Investor Challenge. We are helping build the capacity and investment readiness of social purpose organizations and boost women’s sector participation in the social finance market. We look forward to sharing our expertise and working with both enterprises and investors in this unique program.”

The impact objectives of the Women-led Impact Investor Challenge are about empowering women founders on a holistic level. The program aims to connect women founders with investors and support them in navigating the investment process and landscape. This investor challenge aims to bring forward a new cohort of investors that are not only equipped to make impact investments, but do so while recognizing the strength that diversity brings to investing.

To address the existing gap on raising funds, faced by women founders, the TELUS Pollinator Fund and Spring Activator are creating a space for women founders to:

  • Learn the ins-and-outs of raising capital as a women founder, specifically for women running impact-focused businesses

  • Gain exposure and access opportunities to connect with investors who share their core values, impact goals and are interested in actively investing in women-run businesses

  • Connect with other women founders who are also navigating the world of entrepreneurship and capital raising as a woman

As well as a space for investors to:

  • Learn how to invest hands-on alongside a like-minded community of women and allies who are interested in investing in women-run impact businesses

  • Access knowledge and deal flow needed for new impact investors to craft their impact investment thesis and make their first impact investment

  • Understand the relationship between gender and power and the implications it has for advancing gender equality from venture experts

As one of the world’s largest corporate social impact funds, the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good is working to support mission-aligned founders by investing in for-profit startups, including organizations that are transforming health, education, agriculture and environment solutions. By collaborating with the Pollinator Fund, the Spring Activator challenge will enable more women-led startups to drive change and create better outcomes for those in need. Emphasis will be placed on measurable, beneficial impacts in climate, sustainable food systems, and inclusive communities, alongside a financial return for investors, while also empowering early-stage women-led startups in the industry across Canada.

“At the TELUS Pollinator Fund, we view diversity as a strength helping to uncover untapped market opportunities. We are proud to have a portfolio where nearly 40 percent of portfolio companies are led by women and more than half are led by Indigenous and racialized founders,” said Ka-Hay Law, Investment Director, TELUS Pollinator Fund. “Supporting diversity is not only a core tenet of our investment thesis, but also good business, without it we are leaving money on the table, as investors and as a society. We’re pleased to be collaborating with Spring to shine a spotlight on exciting women-led startups who are often overlooked. We are equally excited that this program will equip a new cohort of investors to invest with diversity in mind, embedding this mindset into investment decisions to create a more inclusive impact investment ecosystem.”

To register as an entrepreneur or investor for the Women-led Impact Investor Challenge presented by the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good please visit the website.

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