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Sequoia announces $100,000 fellowship for women entrepreneurs

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on July 26, 2021

Entrepreneurs should have a start-up in the pre-launch or pre-PMF stage to be eligible

Global venture capital firm Sequoia India has announced a yearly $100,000 Spark Fellowship to 15 women entrepreneurs in India and Southeast Asia. To be eligible for this fellowship, entrepreneurs should have a start-up in the pre-launch or pre-PMF (product-market fit) stage.

Along with the no-strings-attached fellowship amount, recipients will also get access to one-on-one mentorship with a senior Sequoia India investment advisor for a 12-month period. Further, they will be matched with a start-up founder from Sequoia India’s portfolio, who will be their founder mentor.

Sequoia Surge sessions

They will also have access to select Sequoia Surge sessions and support from Sequoia India portfolio specialists across hiring, legal, finance, product, technology and marketing. Applications for the Spark Fellowship are open till September 15, and the program will commence from November.

“We started Sequoia Spark in 2018 as a series of talks with founders followed by office hours with the Sequoia team. We did 10 of those over 20 months across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, and Jakarta,” a Sequoia India spokesperson told BusinessLine.

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The program is also extending sessions and events to women entrepreneurs outside of the Spark Fellowship. This will include Spark Talks, which are monthly webinars with global women leaders; Spark Studios, small-group sessions with Sequoia India specialists on hiring, product, technology, etc; and Spark Coffee Chats where Sequoia India and Southeast Asia investment advisory team members have committed to spend over 250 hours per year for one-one-one coffee chat sessions with female founders to discuss business challenges.

According to Crunchbase, over 800 women-founded start-ups globally received a total of $4.9 billion in venture funding in 2020, which is a 27 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2019.

“Creating a more welcoming and nurturing environment for female founders is the need of the hour. We see some green shoots, but a lot more needs to be done. One-third of the start-ups in the current cohort of Surge, for example, have at least one woman founder, with 10 women in the cohort overall. This is a start and we aspire to keep improving,” the VC firm added in a press statement.

Published on July 26, 2021

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