Amsterdam-based Borski Fund has become the first venture capital fund to receive the nod (and financial backing) from Visa Foundation as part of its Equitable Access Initiative, a five-year, $200 million strategic commitment to support gender-diverse and inclusive small businesses around the world in accessing capital.
Named after Johanna Borski, a prominent 19th-century Dutch investor who notably was the first woman to buy shares in De Nederlandsche Bank, the fund that bears her name strives to continue this legacy by shifting the focus of gender lens investing from niche, to the mainstream, while reducing the gender gap in access to capital in the process.
Founded in October 2019 by Simone Brummelhuis and Laura Rooseboom, Borski Fund’s investment thesis proposes a triple effect on the status quo, aiming to promote inclusive innovation, inclusive economic growth, and the empowerment of female leadership.
Given the rather abysmal numbers presented in Atomico's State of European Tech 2022 report, Borski Fund's timing couldn't be any better. As a reminder:
87% of all VC funding in Europe is still raised by men-only founding teams, while the proportion of funding raised by women-only teams has dropped from 3% to 1% since 2018.
“Research shows that diverse teams create an environment for inclusive innovation and no tunnel-vision in decision-making and business policy,” explained Brummelhuis. “Before this vision, we must facilitate a feminisation of the workplace and of positions of leadership. From the board of directors of large multinationals to bank managers granting access to credit, and to female VCs, women are needed to project equality and diversity in access to power.”
All companies in Borski’s portfolio are founded or co-founded by female tech entrepreneurs, many with a data and AI-driven approach toward innovation. A heavy emphasis is placed on investments in femtech and the advocation of sustainability, a notion Borski believes enables important innovations to reach the market, ultimately creating positive spillovers on the women that the products are designed for.
With an initial commitment of €21 million and a current fund size of €40 million, Borski Fund has invested in 10 promising startups including digital fashion house The Fabricant, hormone-based mini lab for women biotech startup Inne, and peer-to-peer marketplace The Next Closet.
On the decision to back Borski Fund, Visa Foundation’s Head of Investments Najada Kumbuli commented, “Visa Foundation is proud to support the Borski Fund and its work to invest in and empower women founders, helping to construct a more equitable and sustainable financial ecosystem in which access to capital is ubiquitous for women and gender diverse small businesses. We were impressed by the team’s track record in investing in innovative, high growth, and high impact women-led businesses, while creating and fostering a thriving diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe.”