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Google launches Women Founders Fund to support AI startups in Asia Pacific

Women Founders Fund

In a bid to address the gender disparity in the startup ecosystem and promote women’s participation in the AI revolution, Google for Startups has unveiled the Women Founders Fund. This initiative aims to provide equity-free funding and valuable Google support to women-led AI startups in India, Japan, and Korea.

Currently, the representation of women founders in Asia Pacific’s startup landscape stands at a mere 5.7%, a statistic that has remained unchanged over the past five years. The challenges of startup costs and regulations disproportionately affect women due to deeply ingrained gender stereotypes. Moreover, the gender gap extends to the AI sector, with women being underrepresented in AI research and development, resulting in biased algorithms that favour men.

To foster a more inclusive future powered by AI, Google for Startups has taken a proactive step by launching the Women Founders Fund for AI startups in the Asia Pacific region.

Six startups, two each from India, Japan, and Korea, will be awarded an equity-free cash grant of $100,000 each. These countries have shown promising growth in women-founded AI businesses through Google for Startups Campuses in Japan and Korea, as well as the impactful Startup School in India, which guided over 14,000 aspiring entrepreneurs in 2022.

The Women Founders Fund joins Google for Startups’ expanding portfolio of Founders Funds, which have cumulatively provided over $30 million to support underrepresented and at-risk founders across Africa, Europe, Brazil, and the U.S. Over 400 recipient startups have collectively raised more than $400 million in subsequent venture capital rounds, validating the effectiveness of investing in underrepresented founders.

Hyemin Lee, founder of Korea-based fintech startup Finda, highlights the persisting biases and limited capital access that women founders encounter. She emphasizes the need for ongoing support to cultivate credibility for women’s ideas and create a community of advocates.

Mariko Magnan, founder of Japan-based personal concierge startup TPO, credits Google for Startups programs for boosting her confidence and providing unique insights that were lacking in her local ecosystem. She sees increased women leadership as a powerful catalyst for inspiring and empowering others.

Recipients of the Women Founders Fund will benefit not only from the cash award but also from personalised mentorship and technical guidance from Google experts. Applications are now open for women founders in India, Japan, and Korea until August 15, 2023, offering a significant opportunity for women to break barriers and propel their AI-driven innovations.

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