The Vegan Women Summit (VWS) has announced the return of VWS Pathfinder – a summit and pitch competition focusing on women founders in animal-free innovation. It’s the only summit of its kind worldwide.
The virtual summit will span six continents. It will feature CEOs, founders, and investors across a range of industries, including beauty, biotechnology, fashion, and food.
Five finalists will pitch live in front of a global jury of investors. Investors include Stray Dog Capital, Upfrield, and VegInvest, among others. The winner will receive $50,000 to further their business.
Heather Mills (Founder of Vbites), Miyoko Schinner (CEO of Miyoko’s), Dr. Sandhya Sriram (CEO of Shiok Meats), Daniella Monet (Co-founder of Kinder Beauty), Denise Woodard (CEO of Partake), and two dozen other women will headline the event.
VWS Pathfinder also noted that it is ‘proud’ that more than 70 percent of its speakers are women of color.
Speaking about the summit, Mills said in a statement: “As a veteran founder and investor in the plant-based industry, I’m proud to join VWS Pathfinder to support the rise of women founders around the world.
“We need solutions across every level of the food system supply chain, and I believe accelerating the growth of mission-driven women-led startups is key to the success of this industry.”
Schinner added: “As a founder in the [animal-free] space, I have experienced gender bias and challenges from potential investors first-hand, and hope through platforms like this, we can create a more equitable path forward for rising women entrepreneurs.
It’s not a new issue. A 2018 report found that 93 percent of funding for European tech start-ups goes to teams made up entirely of men. In fact, last year Forbes reported a $189 billion gender gap in start-up funding. It highlighted data showing that male-only founders raised $195 billion in 2019. Meanwhile, female-only founded companies raised just $6 billion.
But female founders who had a male cofounder raised $20.9 billion that year.
VWS Pathfinder will take place on October 29, 2021.