News Brief

Astia launches $100 million fund with Mastercard as lead investor

February 8, 2021 | By Caroline Niven

Astia, the Silicon Valley-headquartered organization dedicated to leveling the investment playing field - and redefining the traditional venture capital landscape - has launched a $100M early-stage venture fund aimed at addressing the extraordinary disparity in funding for companies that include women in founding or executive roles.

Led by an investment from Mastercard, the Astia Fund will invest globally in high-growth companies that have at least one woman in an executive, equity-holding position. Additional investors include: Priya Mathur, past president of the board of CalPERS; Jim O’Neill former chief economist and former chairman of Asset Management at Goldman Sachs; Farvatn Venture; Portola Creek Capital; Tides Foundation; numerous members of Toniic, a global network of impact investors; and other notable LPs.

Since launching investment activity in 2013, Astia has invested over $27M in companies sourced by the Astia Expert Sift™ that is proven to eliminate gender, racial, age and geographic bias in the investment sourcing and screening process. Those companies have gone on to raise more than $450M. The Fund offers institutional investors the opportunity to invest in Sift-qualified companies and partner with Astia’s accomplished investment team, Sharon Vosmek, Victoria Pettibone, Evie Mulberry and Omar Ali.

Last year, Astia sourced companies raising more than one billion dollars. However, venture capital continues to fail to see these opportunities; in 2020 less than 9% of venture capital was invested into companies that included women anywhere in the founding or leadership team, less than 2% was invested into women CEOs.

Mastercard’s support for the Astia Fund builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to drive a more inclusive, sustainable digital economy, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.

“There is a great deal of talk about inclusion and women within venture capital, but VCs need to do what they do best – invest,” commented Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia. “With this new fund, Astia systematically invests in under-invested, yet out performing companies - where women are rightly in positions of power, equity and influence. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it creates better companies and delivers stronger returns.”

Larry Bettino, Board Chair, Astia and 30 year veteran of the venture capital industry  said: “There is simply no excuse for there to be a ten-to-one disadvantage in institutional funding for women-run businesses.  Limited Partners should do their part by expecting their VC funds address this issue as well as Astia has.”  

Ann Cairns, Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard, said: “I am proud that Mastercard is the lead investor in Astia’s first venture fund. Too much of our world was designed without women in mind –and without women involved. Even today, inequality and exclusion still hold women back. That’s why Mastercard is forging ambitious partnerships and championing the people, businesses and innovations that are transforming the way our world works. We know that when women and underrepresented groups are at the leadership table these teams outperform for customers, investors and companies.”

Caroline Niven