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As year-round champions of women, each March we get excited for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, when women changemakers get their rightful place in the spotlight. Over the last week, we caught several inspiring stories about women business leaders, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and others who have shaped the world throughout history and today.

For a look back at the women business leaders who were breaking glass ceilings long before Oprah and Martha Stewart, the History Channel profiled seven Trailblazing American Women Entrepreneurs. As for the women shaping history today, Time recognizes 12 extraordinary women who are working toward a more equal world and Forbes has a list of 20 Customer-Centric Companies Led By Women.

If you’re interested in the intersection of gender and investing, The Conversation discusses how investor pressure can force companies to address equity issues. Other good reads include a Harvard Business Review article about women in venture capital and Responsible Investor’s analysis of the investment industry’s efforts to address sexual harassment in the years since #MeToo went viral.

Our hope is that these stories about women making an impact are not limited to just one month a year and that the financial industry will continue to make progress on achieving equity for all.


Getting rejected by more than 100 investors can be disheartening, to say the least. But Melanie Perkins didn’t let it stop her from landing seed capital for her design startup. Instead of giving up, she kept learning, refining her strategy, and updating her pitch deck until she got a yes, as she discussed in an interview with Forbes.

That persistence paid off when Perkins finally connected with the investor who would help her realize her dream of launching Canva, an online design and publishing tool that aims to make design simple for everyone. By October 2022, Canva was worth $26 billion, becoming the world's most valuable startup founded and led by a woman. It was just named the #1 Most Innovative Enterprise company by Fast Company and ranked #4 on the CNBC Disruptor 50 in 2022.

Perkins has come a long way since starting Canva in her mother’s living room. Now 35 years old and worth $3.6 billion, she and her husband have pledged to donate almost all their wealth. Her drive and determination to take big, bold bets have shaped her business.

“…One of the values that we have explicitly stated at Canva is to set crazy big goals and make them happen. And I happen to be very inspired by crazy big goals,” Perkins said in a 2022 interview. We can’t wait to see the impact she creates by striving toward whatever “crazy big goals” come next.

Private Equity Doubles Down on Impact Investing
Private equity firms are raising significant capital to invest in the low-carbon transition and other impact investments, reports Impact Alpha and the Financial Times. Al Gore and David Blood’s Generation Investment Management is nearing completion of a $1 billion dedicated climate fund, and TPG has raised $7.3 billion for its climate fund. KKR, meanwhile, reports that its impact fund leads the firm’s other funds with a 32% internal rate of return, and it has now closed on at least $1.9 billion for its newest Global Impact Fund. A key element of KKR’s impact strategy includes extending equity ownership to rank-and-file employees, and CBS News recently reported on how that strategy is impacting the lives of employees.
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Sustainable Aviation Investment Takes Off

United Airlines made headlines at the end of February for its new venture capital fund that aims to make air travel greener. The airline and its five corporate partners (Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell) made an initial investment of $100 million that will go to startup firms and technology to develop and expand the availability of sustainable aviation fuel. United also hopes to stoke public interest in the initiative, enabling customers to donate to the fund in exchange for frequent flyer miles.
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Spotlighting Innovators from Coast to Coast

From the mid-Atlantic to the Pacific coast, small- and medium-sized businesses fuel regional economies. This month, Inc. features 1,125 private companies that are scaling at lightning speed, having an outsized impact in their regions. If you are looking more inspiring stories, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies 2023 includes numerous next-gen founders who are changing business and society, like David Vélez of Nubank and Anastasia Volkova of Regrow Ag.
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Understanding the Black Tech Effect
Last year, Black founders received just 1% of total venture capital funding in the US, an estimated $2.25 billion. In the face of the funding challenge, many Black-led tech companies are embracing alternative business models and pivoting to pursue both profit and purpose. The Black Tech Effect, published by The Plug, spotlights 100 promising Black-led, high-growth tech companies across a range of sectors, from fintech to beauty tech and everything in between. 
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WATCH: A Dose of Climate Change Optimism

Climate change news is often all doom and gloom, so you may find Bloomberg’s Getting Warmer with Kal Penn a pleasant break from the norm. The new streaming series injects a dose of humor and optimism while exploring topics like plastic pollution and the future of water, featuring ideas on how policymakers, consumers, and businesses can tackle issues and find solutions together.
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