BDC and MaRS IAF announce initial $5 million close of women founder-focused fund


BDC and seed-stage investor MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) announced the first close of StandUp Ventures Fund I, with a $5 million contribution from BDC Capital.

Managed by MaRS IAF and led by Michelle McBane, investment director at MaRS IAF, StandUp Ventures will invest in Canadian pre-seed and seed-stage high growth ventures in health, IT, and cleantech. Specifically, qualifying investments must have at least one female founder in a C-level role with a significant ownership position. Twelve to 20 investments, ranging from $250,000 to $1 million, will be made over the next three to five years.

“I am delighted to see this new fund take flight and I am optimistic that other corporate investors will follow BDC’s lead in this regard,” said Jérôme Nycz, executive vice-president of BDC Capital. “Women entrepreneurs can count on BDC to be a trusted partner and financier as they seek the advice and capital required to grow their ventures.”

“The reality is that women entrepreneurs still face additional hurdles when seeking venture capital.”

The first company to access venture and growth capital from StandUp Venture Fund I is Toronto-based tealbook, an online platform that aims to make enterprise sourcing of suppliers faster and more efficient through peer-driven supplier knowledge and aggregated supplier intelligence.

Stephany Lapierre, tealbook’s founder and CEO, said she is “thrilled” to be StandUp Ventures’ first investment, especially as it can be challenging for women entrepreneurs to secure venture capital.

“The reality is that women entrepreneurs still face additional hurdles when seeking venture capital,” said Lapierre. “This investment will allow tealbook to continue developing its AI/machine learning capacity and go-to-market strategy, giving us a crucial competitive advantage as we grow our market share.”

The StandUp Ventures fund is the result of a$50 million commitment to supporting women-led businesses through BDC. In November 2016, BDC said it would make “fundamental changes” to the way it works with women and launch initiatives to support women-led businesses, including the pre-seed and seed-stage fund.

In 2015, BDC said it made a commitment to increase its term lending to majority women-owned businesses to at least $700 million over three years.

“We know that Canadian women want to own their own businesses, and yet less than 16 percent of Canadian SMEs are majority owned by women,” said Bardish Chagger, minister of small business and tourism. “Initiatives such as these will help raise that number and give more women entrepreneurs the support they need to succeed, while also making important investments in innovative businesses that will help create the good, middle-class jobs of tomorrow.”

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.