Female-founded companies receive less than 1% of European VC investment

European companies with female-only founders receive less than one percent of all VC capital investment despite the number of female-led companies almost doubling over the past decade, research by Yoppie, the pioneers of personalised menstrual wellness and period care has revealed.

Gender balance in the world of business and venture capital investment has been historically poor with male founders accounting for the vast majority of companies in both Europe and the US, as well as receiving the lion’s share of VC investment. To try and understand how or if this balance has been corrected over the past ten years, Yoppie has analysed comprehensive investment data between 2011 and 2021.

Number of female-founded companies shows marginal growth

In 2011, female-founded companies accounted for just 2.5% of the European total, a number that has slowly but gradually risen every year to reach 4.6% in 2021. At the same time, the number of businesses that have both female and male co-founders has gone up from 10.3% in 2011 to 16.9% in 2021.

A very similar pattern is identified in the US market. In 2011, 3.7% of US companies were female-founded, rising steadily to 6.2% in 2021. In the same time period, the number of female and male co-founded companies rose from 10.8% to 18.7% of the US market.

Investment levels in female-founded companies

Despite this steady growth in both Europe and the US, when it comes to the level of investment female-founded companies have received, it’s a very different story.

In 2011, female-founded companies received just 1.2% of all European VC investment. By 2020, this total had grown to 2.2% before falling to 0.7% in 2021, the lowest point in at least ten years. 

Investment has been easier to come by for female and male co-founded companies. In 2011, they accounted for 6.8% of all VC investment, rising to 16.9% in 2021. 

In the US, the patterns are very similar. Female-only VC investment has dropped from 2.4% in 2011 to 1.8% in 2021, while female and male co-founded companies increased their share of capital investment from 6.8% in 2011 to 14.7% in 2021.

Total sums invested

Despite this disappointing insight, the amount of money invested in female-founded and male-female co-founded European companies has, at least, increased from €0.44bn in 2011 to €7.70bn in 2021 - with the average deal size rising from around €1.4m in 2011 to €7.7m in 2021.

In the US, female-founded and female-male co-founded companies received $3.6bn in 2011, rising to an impressive $29.1bn in 2021 - with the average deal size rising from $4.1m to $15m in the same time period.

Founder of Yoppie, Daniella Peri, commented: “We’ve seen a huge push to encourage more women in business in recent years, but during the last decade these efforts have resulted in a pretty marginal increase in the number of female led businesses. 

"We need more female founders, full stop. More women pushing diversity in business, even if they do so with the help of a male co-founder at their side.

"The data suggests that there is a clear appetite for good investment amongst VCs regardless of founder gender, with a sharp uplift in the levels of capital invested in female led businesses. But if we don’t present them with these opportunities to begin with, we can’t attempt to break down the gender wall that remains within today’s business landscape.

"Yoppie is just one example that it can be done and our journey was as much about educating investors on the world of femine hygiene as it was demonstrating our business credentials. Believe in your product, believe in your business and you’ll soon realise that gender is pretty irrelevant in the eyes of investors.”