One year after almost tripling in size, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Women in Tech (WIT) venture fund is reworking its strategy while still continuing to invest in innovative female-led tech businesses in Canada.
The WIT – which now sits at $200 million and is one of the worlds largest funds that invests solely in technology firms run by women – invested in $14 million in 19 companies over the last year, bringing its total direct investments to $17 million in 25 companies.
“Our mandate is to support and grow great women leaders in tech and in venture, and lead by example so other funds follow,” said Michelle Scarborough, managing director of strategic investments at BDC Capital, in a press release. “In the past year, we reviewed more than 1,000 women-led tech companies. What it reinforces to me is that the number of women choosing entrepreneurship in technology and innovation is growing in Canada and we are just seeing the beginning of women playing strong leadership roles in tech enterprise.”
The WIT’s mandate is to invest in companies that are either led or co-led by women that use technology to disrupt the market.
According to the press release, a majority of the fund is being directly invested into high-growth companies to allow them to scale globally, while another portion is focussed on creating an ecosystem that provides mentorship, networking, and other tools to allow women to thrive in the industry.
“The government launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy because we believe that women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do but it’s also good for the bottom line,” said the Honorable Mary Ng, minister of small business and export promotion, said in the press release. “BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund supports women in building and scaling up their businesses, while also empowering the next generation of women business leaders.”
Two of the companies that WIT has invested in the last two months are Sampler and Bridgit.
Sampler is a Toronto-based company that helps retail outlets specialize its targeting for product sample campaigns. It has secured a partnership with L’oreal and has been so successful that Amazon.com Inc. has begun a similar pilot project. The WIT helped Sampler close its Series A investment round in January of 2019.
Bridgit – based out of Kitchener and led by two women – specializes in construction management software that allows for project management directly from mobile devices. Thanks to a fundraising campaign support by the WIT, Bridgit was able to secure $6.2 million in funding to allow them to expand further into the United States of America.
Bridgit is also trying to change the narrative of pay inequality, as it practises complete pay equality, as well as maintains a 50/50 split of male and female employees.