While the technology industry is notorious for its diversity problem, the energy sector has one too, albeit it’s less spoken about. In fact, women only hold 32% of the jobs in renewables and 22% in oil and gas, according to IRENA. And startups can help in redistribution, female founders only receive 2.7% of all venture capital investments as of 2019. In a space as capital-intensive as sustainability, it’s almost impossible to move the needle with such scarce resources.
CapStone Holdings, a family office that invests in high-growth opportunity tech, wants to help tackle the diversity problem. The company just launched a sustainability-focused venture fund GameAbove Capital. It will deploy $50 million, focused on backing women and minority-owned sustainability businesses.
To learn more about the inaugural GameAbove fund, I spoke with Heather Stone, CapStone’s and GameAbove’s co-founder.
The inspiration behind starting the fund
What’s clear is that not only is there a huge disconnect between the number of minorities in the U.S. and involvement in sustainable leadership positions, but also women face big challenges when it comes to accessing capital in the energy industry. In 2019, for instance, there were only 234 investments in women-founded energy businesses, according to Pitchbook data.
“Enterprises [led by women and minorities] tend to be self-funded or angel-funded, which limits their ability to grow,” Stone tells me. “Additionally, it is our assessment that the pandemic further exacerbates the issue by restricting the availability of funds overall, which further impacts worthwhile enterprises owned by minorities and women.”
GameAbove Capital’s criteria for investing in sustainability startups
GameAbove Capital’s check size starts at $3 million and will invest in companies that are at least two years old. It is bullish about founders who invested 60-80% of their personal capital in their business, Stone says.
While sustainability is a broad field, GameAbove Capital thinks the following problems are the most important: “Maintaining clean water, reduction and replacement of plastics and autonomous vehicles powered by low to no emission engines, just to name a few core competencies,” Stone tells me.
The first step of many to closing the diversity gap in the energy sector
The fund comes at an especially vital time, as Covid-19 is heavily impacting the clean energy sector. GameAbove Capital’s communications team has shared that the fund has already started receiving applications since its announcement.
“Companies focused on sustainability need far more investment in R&D, innovation in creating products and maintaining costs that can be competitive with non-sustainable related products or businesses,” Stone tells me.
“Companies are looking for solutions and they need partners to help them achieve their sustainability goals.”
Lauren Beauban is an Editorial Fellow at theRising, where she covers sustainability news and influential people in the industry. She is also interested in environmental policy and how it affects people. You can pitch her stories at email@example.com