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Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures pours more money into female-focused venture fund

July 13, 2021, 12:32 PM UTC
Melinda Gates at the Elysee Palace in Paris
Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on July 1, 2021.
Mustafa Yalcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Child tax credit payments are set to go out this week, hybrid work arrangements may leave women behind, and Melinda French Gates doubles down on female founders. Have a great Tuesday.

– Funding female founders. When the Gates announced their divorce in May, speculation swirled as to what Melinda French Gates might do as an independent philanthropist and investor. If today is any clue, the answer is a no-brainer: she’ll continue supporting causes that promote women and girls, a mission she’s supported for decades.

As Emma reports, French Gates’ investment company Pivotal Ventures, which has backed Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevest and All Raise, is investing again in Female Founders Fund, a venture fund whose goal is to support women-founded business that are overlooked by traditional VCs.

Pivotal is among the limited partners investing in the firm’s $57 million fund, its third. Pivotal also invested in Female Founders’ $25 million second fund in 2016.

Since launching with a $6 million fund in 2014, Female Founders has backed about 50 companies including the women’s health business Maven Clinic, weddings platform Zola, razor startup Billie, and mental health startup Real. The share of VC funding for women-led startups has inched upward over the years, but such firms still only receive a tiny share of all funding—2.2% in 2020.

“For us, it’s not just about putting capital to work,” says Female Founders Fund founding partner Anu Duggal. “It’s also about building an ecosystem that really didn’t exist.” The firm now has $95 million in assets under management and more than two-thirds of the founders it backs are women of color.

“I firmly believe we are missing out on transformational ideas by not putting resources behind women,” French Gates said in a statement. “I’ve invested in the Female Founders Fund because we need women founders and funders at the table if we want to build a more prosperous and inclusive economy for everyone. New and innovative ideas come from everywhere; we can’t keep looking in the same old packages.”

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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