In the face of one of our country’s greatest public health challenges in over a century, all sectors of America’s economy and strata of society are being called upon to act. Now Women Who Tech, the organization focusing on the lack of funding for women-led tech startups, has opened applications for a new grant program to help solve the problems emanating from the pandemic. This new grant program will build upon their success of providing over $2M+ funds and services to underrepresented women-led tech startups since 2015.
The grant program titled “COVID-19 Tech Challenge” that is part of its recently established Startup Grants Program will award Innovation Grants of $10,000 and Impact Grants of $3,000 on a rolling basis.
“Even before COVID-19, as a small startup, growth has always been a challenge. Grants are essential especially for Black women startup founders like myself who — as a group — only receive .02% of venture funding,” said DeShuna Spencer, CEO & founder of kweliTV. “We would not be in business today if it were not for grants similar to the Women Who Tech Startup Grants Program.”
The initiative could not be more-timely. While funding for women-led startups has remained low at approximately 2.7% over the last few years, the number of investments has dramatically declined by over 30% between 2019 Q2 and 2020 Q2, according to Pitchbook. This recent change spotlights that more than half of women founders (55%) report being treated differently while fundraising, due to their gender, compared to 8% of their male counterparts.
“Look at the data – women entrepreneurs continue to bring in more revenue with less money invested. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies and a member of the Advisory Board for Women Who Tech.
A panel of judges comprised of investors will select 5 of the best startups to be awarded grants. They include:
- Stas Sokolin, Principal, Ventures at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ventures
- Sandra Campos, CEO of DVF (Diane von Furstenberg); Investor and Operating Partner
- Jocelyn Lee, Executive Director of HearstLab UK; Investor
The Challenge is open to North American based women led tech startups whose products solve a problem resulting from COVID-19 and has at least one woman founder or co-founder. Full criteria are listed on the Women Who Tech website. Applications close August 23, 2020, at 11:59pm PT.