Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP) is taking a firm stand by taking the lead to elevate the conversation and action for women in the digital world.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023, MAVCAP hosted its Accelerating Ventures 2023 session with a focus on inclusivity and diversity with participation from industry players, finance and investment experts, and public stakeholders to celebrate the role of women in the digital sphere.
It aims to level the playing field for all genders to ensure a fair society as a progressive Malaysia while raising the bar in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.
The session was kicked off by Yuki Aizawa, Country Director Malaysia Chapter, Women in Tech® Global Movement for the opening session, Dismantling Patriarchy: Where are we now?.
Following her insightful perspective on the landscape for women today, Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammad Alias, Chairman of the Board of Directors, MAVCAP moderated a robust discussion on Does Gender Matter in the Digital World? featuring prominent panellists, Juliet Zhue, Group President and Chief Financial Officer, Carsome; Cindy Chow, Executive Director of Alibaba Hong Kong and Entrepreneur Fund Hong Kong; Salmah Bee Mohd Mydin, Executive Director of Market Development, Securities Commission Malaysia; Thomas G. Tsao, Co-Founder, Gobi Partners and Ashwad Ismail, Vice President and Editor in Chief, Astro Awani.
The discussion presented diverse views on the challenges and evolution of women in the digital era while addressing the need to break down gender barriers in various segments of the industry.
It also highlighted that according to a report by the Malaysian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, only 14% of decision-makers in Malaysian venture capital firms are women.
Furthermore, women-led start-ups in Malaysia receive a significantly smaller share of funding compared to their male counterparts. Reflecting this, in 2020, women-led start-ups in Malaysia raised only 1% of the total venture capital funding, while male-led start-ups raised 91%.
“Women have been instrumental in shaping the venture capital industry, and their contributions cannot be overlooked,” said Shahril Anas Hasan Aziz, Chief Executive Officer, MAVCAP.
“As an institution that understands the importance of diversity and inclusion, we are privileged to be able to champion women fund managers and start-up founders by providing them with the resources they need and unlocking opportunities for them to grow and thrive. As firm believers in leading by example, we have made positive progress internally to ensure that our staff and Board of Directors comprise individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experience, and we believe that this diversity is crucial to our success.”
Giving a foretaste to the ongoing challenge, Noor Amy Ismail, Chief Operating Officer, MAVCAP commented, “There has to be a push for greater transparency and accountability in the venture capital industry, with more equitable distribution of funding. While Malaysia has made strides in addressing gender gaps, this has to be an ongoing effort as women continue to face barriers to entry and advancement opportunities. The key to challenging the status quo and creating a more balanced ecosystem is by taking a holistic and collaborative approach, in line with the Government’s renewed focus on the Malaysia Madani concept for a progressive nation. Today’s platform is a clear demonstration of MAVCAP’s commitment in supporting the success of women entrepreneurs and innovators.”
While there is much more to be done, gender diversity and inclusion is becoming the new norm by venture capital firms in Malaysia. One to walk the talk is a long-established partner to MAVCAP, 500 Startups, a global venture capital firm with presence in Malaysia which has pledged to invest in at least 25% women-led companies in Southeast Asia.
Apart from that, Gobi Partners, a leading venture capital firm in Southeast Asia, has long been a staunch advocate for women entrepreneurs and is part of the One Global Women Empowerment Platform to provide programmes to increase women’s entrepreneurial and digital skills. Investing in women founders is a key pillar in Gobi’s investment strategy.
In addition to championing the cause for women, the session also saw the collaboration of an ESG impact initiative with Social Innovation Movement (SIM) to support the Intergenerational (INTERGEN) Community Project, which provides an opportunity for the vulnerable third-age communities at Sabah and Sarawak to learn and produce grocery bags made from recycled fabric to generate income while minimising reliance on single-used plastic.
The ECOBAGS were distributed to the participants of the session to raise social awareness.