Photo by Jordan Donaldson

A survey of the data on the women-led economy shows that 33% of millionaires are women and 22% of people making a $200K+ income are women. Activation is key

In 2022, global venture funding totaled $445 billion, per Crunchbase. That’s a 35% year-over-year decline from the $681 billion startups raised in 2021, but as an eyebrow raise data point, investors spent $100 billion more in 2022 than the $342 billion invested in 2020. To put it more into perspective, this was an even steeper pullback than the 2008 financial debacle.

When women lead, everything changes

Let’s set the stage. Knowledge is ubiquitous across industries:

  • Female Founders: High performing. Inclusive. Under-funded.
  • Female Funders: macro-economic movers, diverse, smart, inclusive, underestimated

Let’s take a broader view of the women’s economy in the US in 2022:

  • 42% of all businesses are owned by women in US
  • 19% of startups had at least one female founder or solo founder in US
  • 1,821 new businesses start per day by women in US
  • Women-owned businesses generate an average per year $1.8 T

However, lack of funding for these businesses still exists. Let’s break this down.

There Are Superstars

The patterns are indeed shifting with the increase in the number of global unicorns either co-founded or funded by women. There were 83 out of 595 unicorns with a women co-founder or founder. That’s 14%, the most it has ever been. We even had 3 new decacorns minted in 2022:

  • Canva
  • Talkdesk
  • Nu Bank

Representation is still low

However, there are places where women need more representation for sure.

  • Only 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. It’s a ladder to climb, governed by rules have been placed that favor more masculine characteristics. However, the tides are turning, thanks in part to COVID and the work-from-home new normal.
  • New hope exists in the deep tech arena, where women hold 21% of leadership positions in healthcare, the most represented industry of industries like tech, SAAS and AI.

There are even more patterns to break with new data in 2022. Female-founded companies exit FASTER, in 7.2 yrs than the broader market in 2022, which is at 8.1 yrs. Female founders are a better bet in because the deliver Return on Investment in a shorter amount of time. Faster liquidity is an attractive proposition for any investor. This is on top of earlier research showing women-founded startups produce more revenue per dollar invested.

Overall VC outlook in the US

The VC industry’s pullback was a 42% decrease in 2022 compared with 2021. Rising interest rates put a premium on capital and challenged the tech industry’s growth-at-all-costs mindset. If you squint a bit more at the overall landscape, on the macroeconomic scale, 2022 seems to be a correction of a very irrationally inflated year in 2021. As we love to speak in startup terms of peaks and values, outliers, and the bell shape curve, 2021 was an outlier and 2022 might be more of the average and 2023 will be a correction of sorts as well. The breakdown: $285.5 billion was invested in the first half of 2022, 80% more than the ~$160 billion invested in the second half of 2022. Inspiration lies in that, as Crunchbase reported, investors spent $100 billion, or 29% more in 2022 than they did in 2020.

The women’s economic startup landscape in 2022?

Bleak to say the least. Funding decreased, and for the first time in 10 years, the percentage of VC funding for women dipped below the trend towards 2% (let me repeat, TWO (2) percent), to 1.9% of the venture capital (VC) deployed was allocated to women in 2022. That means only $4.8 B out of the $238.3 B in VC capital was invested in women-led startups. Let’s have that sink in. The hopeful signal: joint male-female founder teams received 14.9% of VC dollars in 2022.

Mixed-gender teams raise ~10x the amount raised by female-founded teams

“When the economy tanks, discrimination feels justified,” Ruth Foxe Blader, a partner at Anthemis Group, told TechCrunch. “Managers double down on what they perceive as ‘safe’ and ‘boring.’ Investing in women is still perceived as high-risk. LPs need to look beyond manager diversity and into their investment portfolios if we want to change this industry; 1.9% is deplorable.”

Women bring fresh insights and new strategies to solving problems, which the world needs more than ever. Innovation solutions and services to solve the world’s largest problems and solve the needs of customers WILL NOT come from the places we, as a society, have always depended on. Women are leading in this space. We had a new chemical engineering AI software to decrease carbon emissions (Sunthetics founded by Daniela Blanco). There are innovative solutions to women reproductive challenges (Somer Baburek, CEO & founder of Hera Biotech). Women founders are breaking barriers into blue ocean opportunities. That is worth investing in for the optimal return on investment.

One hopeful trend in 2022: Angel Investors did half the deals into female-founded startups, and the other quarter of deals were executed by early-stage VCs. This is hopeful in my view because female founders will get to the next round of financing because they are capital efficient and determined. There will be startups ready for later-stage VC funding for progressive investors wanting a significant return in an environment that needs radical change to stay competitive.

Here is the breakdown of investors who capitalized on women-founded startups in 2022 (Pitchbook Female Founder Dashboard), indicating that angel investors are the engines of the earlier-stage women’s economy, angel-backed startups have more female CEOs (16.4%) than the Fortune 500 (8.8%) and the S&P 500 (6.4%):

  • Angel investors: 47%
  • Early-stage VCs: 31%
  • Late-stage VCs: 22%

Success stories neutralize bias. Please share them!

Here are two very important success stories, one of a women founder who surpassed expectations and one of a women investor with decisive focus and relentless execution.

  • Resilia, founded by Sevetri M Wilson, created a SaaS technology platform that helps nonprofit organizations increase capacity, and enables funders to scale impact and provide on-demand technical assistance to their partners. The company raised $35M in Series B funding in 2022.
  • Anna Raptis, founder & GP of Amplifica Capital, is the first VC fund in Mexico with a gender lens. Amplifica invests in seed-stage, scalable, tech-based companies because investing in women represents an opportunity to generate excellent returns. Anna Raptis raised $11M in her 1st fund at Amplifica Capital in 2022.

The lack of gender diversity in VC is appalling

To focus only on founders not receiving capital in the VC rounds is only half of the story about gender inequality in the startup fundraising landscape. The decision-makers in VC are lacking in gender diversity, with only 4.5% of VC firms having a majority female decision-maker population in 2022. We know from historical data that women investors are 2x more likely to invest in women founders. New research shows that raising only from women investors might be a detriment to female founders (in my humble opinion & as a data-loving researcher, with such a small sample size of actual investments, how is this relevant?).

However, at such dismal numbers, women founders and funders are evaluating the RIGHT fits for sustained growth and diversified portfolios. The DRIVE of organizations like All RaisePortfoliaNext Wave ImpactChloe Capital, and others, is leveling the playing field, interest is growing, and LPs are being educated, inspired, and WRITING CHECKS. It takes time to turn the tides and we will get there. Stay strong!

Annemarie Donegan, an analyst at PitchBook, says: “Check writers are a driving force for diversity in the VC ecosystem and the lack of female representation in firms has a ripple effect on the founders they invest in as well as the LPs that trust them to generate returns.”

The real hope lies in that there are dollars, CAPITAL, to invest when considering that 33% of millionaires are women and 22% of people making a $200K+ income are women. Activation is key, networks are necessary and connections to excellent founders to invest in are vital for continued wealth-building.

Take the lead & stay in the lead by investing in women-led startups in 2023

After a grueling 2022 for female founders and funders, 2023 can only be better with renewed hope from investors who want to invest in the best innovations led by the best capital-efficient founders during volatile economic times and uncertain public markets, look no further than female founders transforming their markets. Why? Most are capital efficient (female founders outperform their male counterparts by 64% – first round capital data from a while ago – and it’s still true), they typically innovate and bring to market transformative technologies that serve large communities in need of a solution (Goldman Sachs research 2022), and they have a 30% greater ability to spot and reducing business risks.

A slower funding climate means more will be asked of startups. That is actually great for women who are realistic in their projections, capital-efficient in their growth, innovate technologies that significantly impact their customers, and build sustainable startup cultures for longevity. The volume necessary for real great women-led startups and solutions to receive funding is evident (it is NOT a pipeline issue). In the United States, in 2022, 42% of all businesses were owned by women. Understandably, not all are venture-backed, and they shouldn’t be. But did you know that 25% of tech companies are founded by women? They should have equal opportunity to seek good money for good businesses.

If you are a woman of wealth, an angel investor now or an angel sitting on the sidelines, 2023 is the year to change that. Build a strong portfolio of changemakers who are innovating in their market. Your risk is lower by a shorter time to exit, capital efficiency, and more efficient teams. If you want to smooth out the expected volatility in the market and put good money into good impact with good returns: INVEST. MONEY. IN. WOMEN-LED. STARTUPS.

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This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit and connect with and