Kauffman Foundation Commits $500,000 to Astia to Advance Women's Participation in High-Growth Entrepreneurship

Kathy Wilson, Astia US Media, 781-652-0499, kwilson@tieronepr.com
Cordelia Meacher, Astia UK Media, +44 (0) 7961 311080, cordelia@if-communications.com
Lacey Graverson, Kauffman Foundation, 816-932-1116, lgraverson@kauffman.org

Funding to leverage the Astia Doing It Right Program for entrepreneurs

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and KANSAS CITY, Mo. September 15, 2010 -- While data show that women start more than 50 percent of all businesses, their participation in high-growth startups remains extremely low. In an effort to change this, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has announced a $500,000 grant to Astia, a premier business accelerator that works with women-led startups. The grant represents a commitment from both organizations to strategically work together to advance the participation of women in high-growth entrepreneurship.

"Entrepreneurs are arguably the most important actors in our economy: the creators of new wealth and new jobs, the inventors of new products and services, and the revolutionizers of society and the economy," said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of advancing innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. "Our commitment to Astia is to ensure that women are encouraged to participate in entrepreneurial endeavors and given the tools to succeed, which is essential to our national economy."

High-growth companies often require outside investment to succeed. In 2009 less than 10 percent of venture capital, the primary source of capital for these types of startups, was invested in companies with a woman CEO or founder, according to Dow Jones Venture Source. Astia's commitment to supporting diverse founding teams as well as building an inclusive community of experts strongly aligns with the Kauffman Foundation's commitment to advancing women's participation in business, particularly in the technology and life science sectors.

"Few foundations are as far-sighted as the Kauffman Foundation has been about investing philanthropic funds in entrepreneurship and pursuing research on the innovation economy. The Foundation has been a pioneer in the space of women's participation in entrepreneurship, and its research has provided critical insights into the work we do at Astia," said Sharon Vosmek, chief executive officer at Astia. "Women are a resource that – if tapped for their existing educational, professional and innovative backgrounds and capabilities – has the ability to dramatically improve the state of the American and Global economies, now and long into the future. The Kauffman Foundation's commitment to Astia gives us the opportunity to dramatically increase our reach and impact."

Funding from the Foundation will be used to increase the reach of the Astia Doing It Right program for entrepreneurs. Doing It Right is a comprehensive program—designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs—that begins with six-days of panels and workshops conducted by serial entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts, followed by two months of personalized advice from industry experts. Participant companies are then invited to join the Astia community for the full life of the company, during which time they can continue to access the expert advice and networks. Currently Doing It Right is offered in Silicon Valley, New York, London and Bangalore. Applications are now being accepted for the Silicon Valley program that will take place the week of November 1 - 6, 2010.

About Astia
Astia is a global not-for-profit organization with a distinct focus and mission – to propel women's full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. Guided by a proven philosophy that gender diversity is an essential element of innovation, Astia works with start-ups around the world as they access capital, grow their businesses, and hone the leadership skills of their founding teams.

The Astia model of engaging a community of experts to the benefit of the select start-ups it serves has resulted in an exceptional success rate: since 2003, over 60 percent of companies that have participated in the Astia Investor Forums have secured funding or achieved an exit within one year of presenting, totalling more than $750 million dollars raised and 20 exits, including two IPOs. Headquartered in San Francisco, Astia delivers programs for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York, London and India. Astia has also had significant press coverage in major media channels including The New York Times, Businessweek, Forbes and The Financial Times. For more information, visit www.astia.org.