A new fund, How Women Invest, announced its first close of $5 million with 97 individual investors in the fund.
Ninety percent of the investors (LPs) in the fund are women, with over half being women of color–including Latinx, African American and Asian. This powerful network of entrepreneurs, board directors, and C-suite executives have already brought 60 deals to the table. The target raise for the fund is $10 million, with up to 249 limited partners based on fund rules in the Jobs Act.
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“Most venture funds would cringe at the thought of having 249 LPs to administer in a fund. We’re empowered by it,” said co-founder Erika Cramer. The average check size is $50,000 to $75,000, much lower than other funds. The fund also provides access and exposure.
Cramer is a first-generation American who worked her way up in investment banking. She started out as a secretary and went on to become a partner at boutique investment banking firm Silver Lane Advisors, focused on mergers and acquisitions in financial services. With an exit over a year ago, Cramer was able to think about venture as a focus to create wealth and leadership opportunities for other female founders.
Julie Castro Abrams, her co-founder, has spent decades supporting women. As the CEO of the Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a micro-finance organization, she helped low-income women start their own businesses.
From this experience, Castro Abrams founded How Women Lead, a network of 13,000 senior executive women leaders–where she met her co-founder. Castro Abrams was an early advocate for women on public boards, advocating for the legislation in California Senate Bill 826 that was passed a couple years ago and replicated in six states.
Castro Abrams also founded Board Leaders, an organization that conducts corporate board searches and helps train women for board seats. She was spurred to raise a fund when she saw how women would hit a wall when raising venture.
For Castro Abrams, “There’s an opportunity in this moment to have the lever of these very experienced women who are more educated, have more work experience than any other generation, and more wealth, but we’re not really optimizing it and leveraging it fully. I am all about changing the numbers”
The firm will co-invest in 10 to 12 late-seed or Series A investments, with some funding held back for follow-on investments.
How Women Invest is poised to announce its first investment in a health tech startup.
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias
This article has been updated to reflect that Erika Cramer joined Silver Lane Advisors as an early partner not as a founder.