“We invest in women to make money, not for social good. But we are losing out on more than 60% of women-led startups dealflow because they just don’t come to us,” said an early-stage investor speaking at TechNode Global’s ORIGIN 2020 conference on Wednesday.

“There is a gender gap, a funding gap, and also an application gap. Women do not apply for venture capital,” said William Klippgen, managing partner of venture capital firm Cocoon Capital. He said that less than 20% of the 2,500 business plans his firm reviews annually have women in the team. 

Shuyin Tang, partner of impact investing firm Patamar Capital, agreed. “We saw the burden was on us, as investors, to find ways in reaching out to the women founders,” she said during a panel discussion moderated by Jenni Risku, founder of volunteer driven community Women in Tech Asia.

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In effort to address the application gap issue, Patamar Capital has increased efforts to state its commitments in women-led startup investments, said Tang. “By doing this, it really increases the deal flow pipeline.” Patamar Capital announced a $50 million Beacon Fund for Southeast Asia female entrepreneurs in September.

To encourage more women founders to apply for venture capital, Klippgen said that the challenging fundraising impressions have to be managed. “We need to speak more of successful women entrepreneurs to counter that impression. We also need to facilitate more business and funding meetings for the women.” 

Read more: Cocoon Capital launches 3rd Edition of Female Founders Mentoring Hours

Speaking from her own experience, Susian Yeap, co-founder of AI training data provider Supahands, said leaders of companies play an important role in fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace culture that looks past genders. “We regularly invite women in leadership positions to share with our team about their journey. This has been really inspiring, showing our team the possibility of women in leadership roles.”

“I think being conscientious to a certain extent is a distinctive women’s trait,” Yeap added.

Klippgen also thinks that women founders are less keen to fundraise until there is validation and traction. But this might be what holds women back from applying for funding, he said. “I’ve observed that women are more responsible with money and more concerned about running out of money than their male counterparts,” added Klippgen. 

Tang agreed: “Due to market conditions, women have less equity funding opportunities,” so that builds up resilience and resourcefulness. 

In recent years, gender lens investing has gained popularity among institutional investors. “While investing in females is an important aspect of gender lens investing, we also think about how gender plays a role in the customer base of our portfolio companies,” Tang said.

Tang called on startups to split their customer data into gender groups. “You will discover interesting insights, trends, and relationships between the genders of your customer,” she said.