Just 2% of global venture capital goes to female entrepreneurs, but fintech incubator Stone & Chalk is launching a new project to tackle the imbalance

Buda Mendes/Getty ImagesElizabeth Moss of Australia competes in Women’s High Jump Stage 2 during day 9 of Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Youth Olympic Park Villa Soldati on October 15, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • The Melbourne office of fintech hub Stone & Chalk is launching a ‘Females in Fintech’ program.
  • The program aims to build the confidence of women entrepreneurs emerging leaders in the fintech sector.
  • Program manager and blockchain expert Karen Cohen cited research indicating just 2% of global venture capital is secured by female entrepreneurs.

Fintech hub Stone & Chalk is launching a ‘Females in Fintech’ program this month in an effort to reduce barriers women in the fintech industry face when pitching to investors.

Females in Fintech Program Manager Karen Cohen spearheaded the initiative, a year after she oversaw Australia’s first blockchain incubator, Block Engine.

“We know that only 2% of funding goes to… female founders so it is something that we’re trying to address both in Australia and globally,” Cohen told Business Insider Australia.

Speaking specifically about the fintech sector, Cohen said there is an imperative to boost the number of women represented.

“Less than 25% of founders are women in Australia generally. And then founders are expected to do everything right? From accounts to pitching, so it may not be their strength. The more women we can get involved at every level, [it] will encourage more founders.”

Cohen also suggested that “women generally are less confident about pitching”, creating another hurdle to funding. She said the idea of the program was to build confidence not just about pitching but “to build confidence for women in business”.

“This program focuses on bringing more women into the space but also growing confidence of women who are already [there],” Cohen said. “I think that confidence building is really important on an individual [basis] to grow your career, to get onto boards, to feel more confident when speaking. The more confident we feel, the more success we have.”

Females in Fintech will involve networking events, mentoring and education. Funded by both LaunchVic, a Victorian agency that helps develop the state’s startup industry, and Stone & Chalk, Stone & Chalk residents as well as other fintech companies in Victoria.

While the speakers and mentors are yet to be confirmed, Cohen said the Females in Fintech lineup won’t just include women.

“I think closing the program to be only women mentors [would] be a shame,” she said. “I think we really need to pull on the network of men who support women and will help us to grow as well.”

Stone & Chalk will reach out to the bank of mentors that already support the organisation as well as mentors in the broader industry, mentioning Anu Bhardwaj, founder of Women Investing in Women Digital, as a prospective mentor.

Cohen said it is an exciting time to be part of the fintech industry and believes investors should look at more female-led startups.

“I think it would be good for people to consider funding female-led programs when they are looking at their investment strategies,” she said.

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