CVCA spotlights women leaders across Canadian venture capital, private equity

CVCA Women VC Awards 2024
Investors from Brightspark and Yaletown lauded for excellence in Canadian VC.

The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) has announced the winners of its second annual Canadian Women in Private Capital Awards.

Introduced in 2023, the awards aimed to celebrate the achievements of women who have made significant contributions to Canada’s private capital industry. This year’s awards were given out at an event on March 7, during which the winners shared their perspectives on the progress made toward equity in both venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE).

“Young, smart women are now becoming an intrinsic part of the VC ecosystem.”

This year, two awards—the Woman of Achievement award and the “Rising Woman Star” award—were presented to four women. Each award was shared by one recipient from the VC industry and one from the PE industry.

The Woman of Achievement Award recognizes general partners who have “elevated the performance and leadership of women” in Canadian VC or PE, according to the CVCA. Sophie Forest, managing partner at Montréal-based Brightspark Ventures, received the award for VC, while Tracey McVicar, partner at Vancouver’s CAI Capital Partners, received the award for PE.

Brightspark Ventures has invested in a number of notable early-stage Canadian tech companies, including early wins in the sector such as Radian6 and Think Dynamics. Forest spoke with BetaKit last year about her ambitions for Brightspark’s latest fund, for which it is targeting $120 million CAD.

The CVCA said its Rising Woman Star award recognizes women “who have made significant business contributions and achieved notable accomplishments in Canadian private capital.” The award winner for VC was Sophie Gupta, principal and head of responsible investing at Vancouver-based Yaletown Partners, and the winner for PE was Cathy Xue, principal at Toronto’s Instar Asset Management.

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Yaletown Ventures, which is headquartered in Vancouver, invests in emerging growth-stage tech startups across North America. The firm recently invested in Elevate Signals’ Series A round, and saw four of its companies exit in 2022 alone. Last year, Yaletown held the final close of its $200-million, second Innovation Growth Fund.

Canada’s private capital industry, particularly the VC sector, has made progress in enhancing the diversity of its teams and leadership. However, women and other underrepresented groups continue to encounter obstacles in starting and advancing their careers. 

Recent studies have highlighted a significant issue with inclusion in the Canadian VC community, where fostering a work environment that supports the comfort and growth of all team members has become less of a priority amidst increasingly challenging market conditions.

“Young, smart women are now becoming an intrinsic part of the VC ecosystem and most firms are now respecting and valuing the journey of each team member, placing importance on maintaining a healthy work-life balance,” Forest said at the event. “This trend is new and evolving.”

“The world of VC [and] PE is dynamic, multifaceted, and ever-evolving, and there is a tremendous need for bright and creative minds with diverse backgrounds and life experiences to help shape its future,” Gupta added.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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