Kalaari Capital through its initiative CXXO has launched a $10 million fund to invest in startups that have women entrepreneurs and chief executives with an aim to level the playing field for working women in India.
"Structurally, at Kalaari, we ought to do something that is more directed than happenstance. The numbers out there are very stark and depressing. In India, from the last decade, only 6% of the overall funding that has been received into companies has at least one women founder. If you look at how many of those funded companies actually had a women CEO, that comes down to abysmally 1.5%," said Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital CXXO interacting with media ahead of the launch of the fund.
The idea of the fund is, "enabling more women founders to be CEO's of startups in shaping India's digital future over the next decade. It will help in women being in the lead in the exponential value that is being created in the economy from the digital directive in India, also is necessary for our startup ecosystem to have more women in order that the inclusive growth is not missed out in terms of opportunities for women," she added.
India’s startup ecosystem is booming, with 17 new unicorns minted in 2021 alone, taking the total number to 53.
However, only one of these unicorns has a woman as its founder and chief executive officer which is Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO of lifestyle firm Nykaa which became a unicorn in 2020.
According to her, inclusive growth cannot happen without adequate opportunities for women at the top.
More women chief executives need to drive India’s march to a $5 trillion economy for the growth to be inclusive and equitable.
To address this, the CXXO program seeks to meet the specific needs of each CEO and her startup, providing not only capital but also bespoke support.
The program will create a cohort of 8- 10 female founders and CEOs each year.
The leadership team of CXXO include names like Ankiti Bose, Co-founder and CEO, Zilingo, Lathika Pai, Country Head, Microsoft, Venture Capital and PE Partnerships, Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer, Dream Sports, Priyanka Gill, Founder and CEO, POPxo - Plixxo, Co-founder and President, MyGlamm, Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory Media besides Kola.
The program will offer seed and Series A funding with a ticket size of $500,000 to $5 million besides helping the entrepreneurs with the right network.
Given the limited number of female founder-CEOs in the Indian ecosystem, many of their achievements go unacknowledged and challenges unaddressed. CXXO will match each entrepreneur with experts who will play the role of a trusted advisor.
CXXO has also brought together successful women entrepreneurs and senior business leaders who will be involved in its investment committee and take on the role of champions for up to two years with
these companies. It will include names like Shereen Bhan, Lavanya Nalli, Priya Rajan, Mona Gandhi, Neeti Mehta Shukla, Gazal Kalra, GhazalAlagh and Goda Ramkumar, among others.