Investing in Women: Funds and Resources for Female Entrepreneurs in the U.S.

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8th celebrates International Women’s Day. While we want to celebrate the numerous successes and contributions women have made every day of the year, we acknowledge that recent history has not been easy for female entrepreneurs.

At the start of 2020, Time reported that women held the majority of jobs in the United States and carry more spending power than in previous generations. But in spite of these upward trends, women’s wages still fall short of those of their male counterparts, even in high-paying job sectors like healthcare. And while 2020 was undoubtedly difficult for genders across the board, women bore the brunt of budget cuts, job losses, and limited investments opportunities

Yet, despite these hurdles, there are also more resources and opportunities available for female entrepreneurs than ever before. Reporting by Crunchbase suggests that women may be more apt to weather the changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, as their business ventures tend to be highly adaptable and impactful. 

From venture capital funds investing specifically in women-led startups to entrepreneur boot camps for middle and high schoolers, there are numerous opportunities for women and girls to leverage resources that will help them thrive. If you identify as female, or if you’re hoping to further women’s success in the workplace, the resources below are for you! 

Fund Women

Don’t let lack of access be the end of your venture — the investors below connect female founders with opportunities to close the gender gap when it comes to acquiring funding. And if you’re a venture capitalist, the following groups could be great partnerships to help you find your next investment. 

Backstage Capital

Backstage Capital says “no problem” to funders who say their lack of diverse investments are due to limited pipelines. They aim to invest in underrepresented founders, or “All founders who identify as a Woman, Person of Color, LGBTQ+, and other underestimated groups.” Any stage company from any industry can apply, and if successful, will receive mentorship, fundraising support, and connection to their network of other underrepresented founders. Founders can apply for funding here, and funders can join a contribution waitlist

Chloe Capital

Chloe Capital is all about “investing in women-led, seed stage, tech and tech-enabled companies with a product in the market validated through early revenue and/or strategic partnerships.” To ensure distribution of funds across the United States, Chloe Capital partners with foundations, universities, and corporate innovators to create opportunities for women. They embarked on a national tour in 2019 that took them to eight cities across the United States, and to date they have invested in ten different companies, created over 75 jobs, and currently represent a portfolio worth over $70M. Check out their Boston investment that pitched at CIC Cambridge in January 2019, and apply for your own funding.  

X-Factor Ventures

Nestled under venture capital group Flybridge, X-Factor asserts that founders are underserved by most existing venture capitalists, and they aim to change that landscape. They provide successful seed-stage startups with one-time investments of $150K, mentorship and advice, and a support network of experienced founders. To apply, X-Factor requires that startups have at least one female founder on their team and a billion dollar market opportunity. Startups from any industry are eligible. Sound like your startup? Get in touch.

If you’re searching for funding, be sure to check out Grant Writing for Female-Founders, a virtual event hosted by CIC and Narine Emdjian, on March 4. RSVP here!

Join a Community

The Shine Theory, coined by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, emphasizes the idea that supporting people in your community in achieving success will ultimately help everyone succeed. So what can you do to help the women in your community shine? We have some ideas!

Hire a Woman to Speak At Your Next Event

Innovation Women is a national bureau elevating professional women by creating a directory of female speakers. Their goal is “gender-balanced panels and equal visibility opportunities for women.”

For speakers, being a part of Innovation Women helps them build their brand and grow in their careers. For event planners, it provides a portfolio of professional women to participate in their speaker lineup, helping to ensure panels are well-rounded and representative of the communities that companies hope to build. Aspiring speakers can join the network here, and event planners can start their speaker search here.

Know Your Worth

Resources such as Ladies Get Paid provide a worldwide network of women with access to networking and job opportunities, as well as 100+ hours of expert courses to “help you advance in your career, manage your money and grow your wealth.” Members are invited to exclusive events with the aim of helping women connect with and learn from each other and experts in professional fields. Become a member for free.

For hiring managers and business leaders, Ladies Get Paid also partners with companies to ensure that their structure and culture elevates women. If you’re hoping to create a path to leadership roles for women within your own business, this may be a good fit. Learn about Ladies Get Paid’s partnership opportunities.

Attend Regular Events for Female Audiences

Check for local meetup groups that bring together women in your field — for example, Women in Technology or Women in Engineering. Or, check out national groups that join women from across industries to inspire and lift each other up. Changemaker Chats hosts regular meetups for women to hear “off-the-record conversations with female changemakers. Our focus is on creating an honest and open conversation about successes and failures, personal philosophies, and advise for future changemakers.” Check out their local chapters (or start your own!) and sign up for the newsletter to hear about their nation-wide virtual events. 

At CIC Cambridge, Sachiyo Minegishi presents a Changemaker Chats event in 2019.

At CIC Cambridge, Sachiyo Minegishi presents a Changemaker Chats event in 2019.

Encourage Students

When identifying opportunities to support and elevate women in entrepreneurship, we should also think about what we can do to support girls in developing their skills and passions. 

Forbes says: “Girls being taught entrepreneurial skills at a young age — [this is a critical component] of furthering women’s success as entrepreneurs.” 

There are plenty of organizations that work with students of varying ages, and the groups below tailor their programs specifically to girls seeking to develop their business acumen. 

Girls With Impact

Aiming to “create the first generation of women…who will think nothing of creating a business or being the next CEO of their own business,” Girls with Impact offers five or ten-week bootcamps for young female entrepreneurs all over the world in rising grades six though nine. Limited to 25 girls per cohort, students receive tailored guidance from qualified and passionate entrepreneurs. Participants will develop a venture idea and create a business plan, developing skill and comfort at leading and presenting their pitch to others. Apply here — financial aid packages are available.  

Girls Who Code

In their own words, “Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.” To address a drop off of teenage girls involved in computer sciences and ensure more women are represented in the field, Girls Who Code has developed a number of programs to keep girls engaged. From after-school clubs, college programs, and summer immersion experiences ranging in levels from beginner to advanced, this free program instills confidence and skill in future female programmers. Apply to a program, or support Girls Who Code by starting your own chapter, partnering, or helping to fundraise.

Girls in STEM

Larger organizations such as NASA also have single-day programs that encourage young women to join STEM fields. Girls in STEM is a one-day event held several times a year in partnership with organizations supporting STEM careers. Their goal is to inspire middle school students interested in these fields and give them a behind-the-scenes look into what working at a world-renowned institution could be like. Registration for their virtual 2021 program opens April 6. 

Support Women Year-Round

Whether you’re a female-identified entrepreneur hoping to grow your business or connect with other women, or someone who wants to support women in their path to success, there are ample opportunities to get involved all year round. 

CIC hosts dozens of virtual events each month for entrepreneurs and innovators. Check out our events calendar, or sign up for our newsletter to get upcoming events, funding opportunities, and entrepreneur resources straight to your inbox.

The Work North America