Traditional venture capital firms are missing out on returns by overlooking women-led startups.
That’s according to Melinda Gates, who spoke to Fortune this week about why she’s investing in women and minority-led businesses.
Gates, co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Seattle-based investment firm Pivotal Ventures, is putting money behind various funds like Aspect Ventures and Female Founders Fund that index for women and minority entrepreneurs. She told Fortune that big, longstanding VC firms are “leaving money on the table.”
“If they’re not seeing the latest innovative, disruptive technology because they don’t understand it or they don’t understand some things that women are spending money on, I think they’re not making great investments,” she said. “They’ll start to wake up over time, and there are some opportunities there.”
I can’t wait to see how a more diverse group of entrepreneurs will shape tomorrow’s innovations—from the products we build to the problems we decide to tackle. Thanks to @polina_marinova and @FortuneMagazine for a great conversation. https://t.co/ki9fGOzSeQ
— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) May 30, 2018
Gates, a long-time champion of creating opportunities for women and minorities in technology, vouched for more women on company boards. She also hopes investors hold their portfolio companies accountable for prioritizing “diversity, the right values, and the right behavior.” You can read the full Fortune interview here.
A 2016 survey conducted by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte found that 11 percent of VC firm investment partners were women. About 30 percent of the tech industry as a whole is female. Less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars went to all-women founding teams last year.
In March, The Gates Foundation announced that it will commit $170 million over the next four years “to help women exercise their economic power.”