Kalaari Capital on Wednesday launched its CXXO programme to promote women entrepreneurship in the country by making it easier for women founder CEOs to access capital, community and coaching. Kalaari Capital has set aside USD 10 million (about Rs 74.3 crore) annually that will be invested in startups that have women founders as key decision-makers, ideally in Chief Executive Officer roles.
The programme will create a cohort of 8-10 female founder-CEOs each year who have the ambition to create a significant impact, Kalaari Managing Director Vani Kola said in a virtual briefing. The programme will offer seed and series A funding (USD 500,000 to USD 5 million) to the cohort and subsequent access to growth funding and resources. “We want to have women in key decision-making roles, that is the reason for this programme. We want to bet on her. CXXO is a Kalaari Capital-backed initiative committed to promoting women entrepreneurship. We believe more women CEOs need to drive India’s march to a USD 5 trillion economy for the growth to be inclusive and equitable,” she added.
Kola noted that to address this, the CXXO programme seeks to meet the specific needs of each CEO and her startup, providing not only capital but also bespoke support. India’s startup ecosystem is booming, with 16 new unicorns minted in 2021 alone, taking the total number to 53. However, only one of the unicorns has a woman as its founder-CEO. Kola said that inclusive growth cannot happen without adequate opportunities for women at the top. “Successful female founders as company builders serve an important role in Indian economic development. The CXXO programme will ensure there is no bias and discrimination on access to capital. We believe these founders will pioneer workplaces that are equitable and inclusive for more women to rise,” she said.
CXXO has set up a leadership team of female pathmakers to guide and spearhead this movement in the startup ecosystem. This team includes Kola, Zilingo co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose, Microsoft Country Head Venture Capital and PE Partnerships Lathika Pai, Dream Sports Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Priyanka Gill (Founder and CEO, POPxo – Plixxo) and co-founder and President of MyGlamm, and Shradha Sharma (Founder and CEO of YourStory Media).
Female founder-CEOs often face a significant bias in access to funding. Between January 2018 and June 2020, startups led by female founder-CEOs received only 1.43 per cent of the total capital raised in India. CXXO will also activate connections for founders to develop their ideas and grow their businesses. CXXO will match each entrepreneur with a champion who will play the role of a trusted advisor.