Beyond The Billion launches in Australia: Over $400M Pledged to Female Founders

We were thrilled to launch our initiative in Australia in collaboration with BTB’s Country Lead and Global Advisory Council Member, Carol Schwartz AO, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and Founder, Female Led Ventures Portfolio. The oversubscribed launch was hosted by Goldman Sachs in Sydney with the collaboration of Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) and brought out some of Australia’s leaders in both venture capital and entrepreneurship.


Though 22% of startups in Australia are founded by women who are innovating across all sectors including AI, Agtech, Cleantech, Edtech, Fintech, Healthtech and so much more, only 0.7% of the total $10 billion in venture capital funding went to solely women-founded companies in FY22.  As for those founded by gender-diverse teams, they received only another 2.2% of all VC invested. Globally, these numbers were closer to 2% and 10%, respectively. This is despite the fact that various studies have shown that women-founded companies outperform per dollar invested with earlier exits and higher valuations.


Led by Co-Founders and Managing Partners Shelly Porges and Sarah Chen-Spellings, Beyond the Billion (BTB) mobilized over US $1billion in its first nine months from their original 86 Fund Partners who today number over 120, including the first six investing in Australia: ALIAVIA, Antler, Artesian, Blackbird, GiantLeap and Vulpes, who have now pledged an additional US $400million. Within the first two years, BTB’s Fund Partners around the world invested over US $638million into almost 800 women-founded companies, with fourteen of those now having been identified as unicorns, including companies with Australian roots Canva and Airwallex. As importantly, a subset of those 479 deals went on to raise almost US $4billion, demonstrating the catalytic effect of breaking the funding barrier for so many early-stage WFCs.


“Today, with the official launch of Beyond The Billion in Australia, we are on every continent (except Antarctica where there are no VCs). We are thrilled to be here in Sydney in conjunction with SXSW Sydney with our Country Lead, the amazing Carol Schwartz AO, and our event host  Goldman Sachs, and partners at DWEN and Dell Technologies,” said Shelly Porges. “Starting with our first six pledged funds investing in female founders and the oversubscribed event consisting of 100+ founders and investors gathered here today, we are confident that the Australian community will be one of our strongest in the world. We are excited to see what we can all do together to address the egregious gender venture investment gap to ensure we are able to fuel women-led innovation for the benefit of all.”


“The continued outperformance of female founders points to the missed opportunity by investors who do not have diverse teams in their portfolio,” said Sarah Chen-Spellings.  “Further in a time of crisis, women CEOs and female founders have shown themselves adept and resilient, warranting more, not less, investment. Closing the gender venture investment gap will require a concerted effort from all in the ecosystem – and crucially at the LP level backing funds that invest into female-led innovation, to ensure a robust pipeline of capital exists. This is where we believe Beyond The Billion will continue to play a role in mobilizing a global community of mission-aligned investors.”


“This event demonstrates that Australian investors are increasingly engaging with the value of diversity, and I am determined to build this into meaningful momentum in Australia,” added Carol Schwartz AO. “I have been an investor and founder mentor for several decades, and I have been so frustrated by the ongoing difficulties talented female founders face in raising capital and scaling their businesses. It seems unbelievable to me when the stats so clearly demonstrate the value that diversity has on startup performance.”

Here are some of our key takeaways from the event:

Understanding the Capital Allocation Landscape:

  • Despite existing statistics, there is still a significant discrepancy between investments in women-led businesses (3%) and the total assets managed by women or women of color (1.4%).
  • To address this, there’s a call to support innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly initiatives led by women.
  • The focus on commercial returns for women emphasizes that investments in women-led businesses can be financially rewarding.
  • Encouraging investments in women who establish venture capital (VC) funds is seen as a way to reshape the investment landscape and create more opportunities for women in finance.

Investing in Women for Better Returns:

  • Data has demonstrated that women tend to generate higher returns per dollar invested, especially with earlier exits in various sectors. This makes a compelling case for increasing investments in women.
  • The idea that investing in women is a good business decision challenges the notion that such investments are purely charitable acts.
  • Positive outcomes observed in women-led businesses, such as higher staff retention and better financial performance, highlight the tangible benefits of diversity in business.

Changing the Approach to Investment:

  • Involving limited partners (LPs) and family offices in diversity initiatives is crucial. This emphasizes the importance of including a diverse range of investors in driving change.
  • The concept of taking incremental steps in entrepreneurship acknowledges that creating change is a gradual process, and it may not be possible to see the entire path to diversity at once.
  • Encouraging different questions for change implies that, to alter the status quo, it’s essential to challenge traditional investment practices and paradigms.

The Role of Goldman Sachs:

  • Goldman Sachs’ early adoption of investing in women reflects the commitment of some major financial institutions to address the gender imbalance in investments.
  • The acknowledgment of the complexity involved in fixing the gender gap highlights that achieving diversity in finance is not a straightforward task; and this is why Goldman Sachs’ has been committed to this in many ways including via their Launch with GS initiative.

The Upcoming Wealth Transfer:

  • The impending wealth transfer, driven by the boomer generation, presents a significant opportunity to promote diversity in capital allocation: by 2030, $30 trillion in the US, and $22 trillion are expected to go to women.
  • Anticipating that a considerable portion of this wealth will go to women, there is an opportunity to change the landscape of finance.
  • Emphasizing patterns of success suggests that understanding and replicating successful strategies will be essential in achieving diversity and inclusion in financial investments.

Measuring Progress, Key Highlights from DWEN WE Cities Index:

  • Specific questions regarding the amount of money invested, the number of women-led businesses, and the level of gender diversity in investments are crucial to gauge progress; as Karinne Brannigan, SVP, Dell shared, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
  • In 2016, Dell began the Women Entrepreneur or WE Cities Index to measure a city’s ability to attract, retain, and support women entrepreneurs. This research highlights just how far many cities have come, and the opportunities in front of us all to create progress for women founders. This is the 4th update and is the only city-level index of its kind.
  • Some key highlights from the report include:
    1. Sydney moved to the Top 10 for the first time at #9 of 55 cities. The city scored high in the female mayor’s last three terms, the number of national-level networking, advocacy, and supplier diversity groups for women entrepreneurs. 
    2. Even with the progress made since the previous index, the capital pillar appears to be the weakest for the majority of WECities, which is why DWEN is in partnership with Beyond The Billion to continue to advance and expand the diverse sources of capital for women entrepreneurs to succeed. 3. We see technology-driven implications for both government and business. Government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive through multiple ways from emphasizing STEM and digital literacy programs, to improving paid and parental leave.
For more on this report, click here.

Promoting Diversity in Capital Deployment:
  • Addressing the underrepresentation of women in capital deployment involves revising processes for different investor categories, including high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and institutional funds.
  • Recognizing the power of diversity for driving alpha indicates that diversity in investments can lead to better financial performance and returns for investors.

Optimism for the Future:

  • Despite the current low percentage of funds allocated to women, there is optimism that gender equality in finance will improve in the future.
  • Belief in cultural and technological changes driving momentum suggests that broader societal shifts will contribute to change in the financial industry.
  • The Dell Women Entrepreneur’s Network is an example of a community female founders can join to build allies and support as they scale. To join DWEN, click here!

Educating and Addressing Bias:

  • Strategies for educating LPs and GPs include creating opportunities for open conversations, sharing insights, and learning from past experiences.
  • Addressing biases in the assessment process is essential to ensure that investments are made objectively and without discrimination.
  • Founders have an opportunity to also address the power dynamic by seeking out diverse funders that reflect their values on their captable. 

Drive Returns Through Diversity with Us #investinwomen

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For more data points on the WECities Report by DWEN, click here

Some moments from the event:

In Partnership with Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network

Hosted by Goldman Sachs

About The Organizers

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.— is a leading global financial institution that delivers a broad range of financial services to a large and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.

Dell Women’s Entrepreneur’s Network— join the network that helps you advance your business. For more than a decade, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) has brought women entrepreneurs together from around the world to help them connect with each other, scale their businesses, and ultimately succeed. The DWEN community welcomes all levels of entrepreneurs, from start-ups to scale-ups.  Joining DWEN will give you access to women entrepreneurs from around the world and valuable resources to grow your business – including the latest technology, access to funding resources, and best practices from a global network of members.

Beyond The Billion is the world’s first and largest consortium of venture funds pledged to invest over $1Bn into women-founded companies. Beyond the Billion’s (BTB) first pledge campaign was launched as The Billion Dollar Fund for Women in October 2018 with an audacious goal of catalyzing $1 billion into the hands of women founders globally, addressing the gender venture investment gap where women were receiving only 2.2% of all venture capital funding. In under 2 years, $638 million of the first billion pledged was deployed by our partner funds into close to 800 women-founded companies, of which 11 have been recognized as unicorns— from Canva to EverlyWell. To continue to build on this momentum, we launched Beyond The Billion, to catalyze capital deployed to and with these venture funds, ensuring their continued capacity to invest by bridging LPs and GPs, building a community of institutional investors, sovereign funds, IFIs, DFIs, family offices, wealth managers and high net worth individuals; driving the agenda collectively. 

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