Mapping Out The Top Female Founders On Every Continent

It’s no secret that when it comes to funding and investment for entrepreneurs on a global scale, women (and especially women of color) are being ignored at a depressing rate compared to men. With 98% of Venture Capital funding going to men, to be more precise, the gender gap in the world of entrepreneurship has a long way to go because it means women-led companies aren’t hitting the market in the same way as male-led companies.

One of the major barriers to securing funding is gender bias. Research shows that female start-up founders face negative attitudes during pitches.

Investors ask women more about risk and losses, while men are asked about ambitions and achievements. But here’s why prejudiced investors are missing out:

Thankfully the world is slowly changing, and with more awareness of the huge gender gap in funding, we see more female-led VC companies, and others, vowing to do better when it comes to taking pitches and investing in innovative ideas.

For the female-founded companies that have been well-funded and are now thriving, it is interesting to take a look and see how the investment has helped them. Women entrepreneurs span the globe and are launching brands and companies, many of which are now household names in business.

BusinessFinancing.co.uk analyzed data from the business information resource Crunchbase to identify the top female founder on every continent in the world and created this new set of maps to show who they are and what they do.

To create the maps shown below, BusinessFinancing.co.uk selected female founders that have been a founder or co- founder of at least one company in a given country or state of the US-listed in CrunchBase. For each country, the research team selected the women who founded companies with the greatest funding amount raised. For some countries, no qualifying companies with female founders were listed on CrunchBase. In cases where there was more than one female co-founder, all-female co-founders were included.

Industry categorization was created on the basis of industries and company descriptions, as listed on CrunchBase. The final dataset contains 107 female founders and co-founders across 102 countries in the world. For the US, 57 female founders were included from 50 states and DC.

Here’s a preview of the top 10 female founders in the world:

Breaking it down by continent, starting with Europe, here is more information on the top female founder in each region.

Victoria van Lennep made it to the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2018 after raising over $250m in lending capital for her UK company, Lendable. The total raised now stands at over $1bn. Lendable uses machine-learning tech to automate credit decisions, offering customers fairer loan rates. Biotech start-ups are big in Europe, but our research shows there’s room for gaming, too. In Finland, Stella Wang raised nearly $7m to create Minecraft-inspired sandbox games for the social generation. She co-founded Dazzle Rocks and provided the creative vision and valuable insight into the cultural differences across eastern and western gaming markets.

The top female founder in the US is Rebekah Neumann, who raised nearly $20bn for The We Company. This is the parent company of WeWork and other subsidiaries and has interests in real estate, finance, and hospitality. Neumann has since taken a step back from The We Company amidst some controversy. Our research reveals that North American female founders often find success with e-commerce and business software companies. One stand-out example is Kemly Camacho, who founded Sulá Batsú in 2005 as a socially-oriented co-operative. Camacho has raised $350,000 to support development in Haitian communities through digital technology, art and culture, and knowledge-sharing.

Aside from Rebekah Neumann (New York), Georgia’s Kathryn Petralia is America’s top female founder. She was also Forbes’ 98th most powerful woman in the world in 2017. Petralia has raised nearly $2.5bn for Kabbage, a fintech company that simplifies working capital loans for small businesses. Biotech and health start-ups are a lucrative business for female founders across the States. Our map shows that the top founders of 21 states are with biotech/health firms. In Texas, the trio of Ann Leen, Helen Heslop, and Cliona Rooney was at the heart of the AlloVir team that raised $159m to develop cell therapies for virus sufferers.

Cristina Junqueira’s water broke in the company office during the first months of Nubank’s existence. The start- up’s only female co-founder continued answering calls all the way to the hospital. Brazil (and South America’s) top female founder has raised over $1.1bn for Nubank but is just as interested in raising female representation in technology and banking. “Many of the structural choices we’ve made in terms of gender equality and inclusion are reflective of the fact that I have been here from the beginning,” Junqueira says. “Traditional companies are uncomfortable because they are losing talent directly to us as they are less able to attract younger professionals to whom things like diversity and inclusion are very important.”

Miri Ratner sees things other people can’t. Ratner has raised $188m for Vayyar, an Israeli company that initially designed their ‘4D imaging’ technology to detect breast cancer. Vayyar’s sensors are now being touted to make autonomous cars safer, to give vision to robots, and for use in homeland security. The top female founders in Jordan are Rama Kayyali and Lamia Tabbaa. Together they raised $2.1m for Little Thinking Minds, a start-up that develops digital education resources primarily for Arabic kids. Kayyali acknowledges her economic privilege, stressing that work is a passion and not a necessity. “For me, working is a choice. I choose to work.”

The world’s top female founder is Lucy Peng. As the sole founder of Ant Financial Services – Alibaba’s online finance outfit – Peng raised $22bn, including a world record $4.5bn funding round in 2016. Peng was part of Alibaba from the beginning, too, as one of the Chinese e- commerce company’s six female founders. Miku Hirano is a millennial tech founder and “serial entrepreneur” in Japan. A computer science graduate, Hirano raised $30m to launch Cinnamon AI. “The most difficult thing for entrepreneurs is to find PMF (product- market fit),” says Hirano. “Even if you have a good idea, you cannot sell it if there is no need in the market.”

Audrey Desiderato is the female founder who has raised the most funding in Africa: $81.3m. Her Kenyan company, SunFunder, funds solar energy companies in sub-Saharan Africa to provide power to areas without reliable electricity access. Omolere Omotayo raised nearly $9.5m to found Foodstock Farmers Market in Nigeria. Farmstock connects farmers with retail and wholesale customers and has become Lagos’ largest B2B market. “I am so proud of moving a simple idea to life in less than four months,” says Omotayo, “and positioning the company to be a disruptive force in the agricultural retail space.”

To see the full research behind these maps, head over to BusinessFinancing.co.uk.

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