HSBC, Microsoft, and Santander back Included VC’s diversity fellowship – FinTech Futures

HSBC, Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12, and Santander’s Mouro Capital are among 11 of the funds backing Included VC’s “Fellowship II”.

The 12-month-long programme is designed to give those from diverse communities easier entry into the world of investing.

The fellowship’s latest 48-person-strong cohort is 18 more than last year

Europe’s seed-stage VC Seedcamp is another backer in the 11-company initiative, alongside seven other European funds.

These include Luxemburg’s Mangrove Capital Partners, Paris’ Daphni, Stockholm’s Creandum, Prague-based Enern, and London’s Notion. As well as Palo Alto-based law firm for start-ups, Wilson Sonsini.

The fellowship’s latest 48-person-strong cohort (18 more than last year) covers 21 countries and spans a 19-45 age group. It claims 31% Black participants, 31% Asian, 52% women, 15% disabled and 17% LGBTQIA+.

It also says 30% of the Included VC’s second cohort is neurodiverse, which covers conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.

Lack of diversity in VC world

As Included VC explains on its website: “Traditional methods of pattern recognition and ‘warm introductions’ limit diversity and reduce exposure to many of the most talented entrepreneurs.”

Whilst female entrepreneurs have, according to PitchBook data, climbed up the UK’s total VC investment for 2020 by 6%. There are still plenty of other minority groups not even getting a look in, and this is in large part down to a lack of diversity on VC boards.

A report by Runnymede Trust found the UK’s Black citizens sit in the highest unemployment rate and are most likely to have a household income below £400 a week. Also, just 8% of their elderly community drew any income from a personal pension.

Included VC argues it has “the broadest definition of diversity”. It covers gender, ethnicity, non-typical degrees, intergenerational diversity, disability, neural diversity, and applicants from excluded communities such as refugees and ex-inmates.

How the fellowship works

Included VC’s fully funded, nine-month fellowship programme is the creation of Nikita Thakrar, Stephen Millard, and Chris Tottman.

Thankrar previously managed innovation and entrepreneurship at Imperial College London’s Deep Science Ventures unit. Whilst Millard and Tottman both work for VC firm Notion, based out of London.

Its first cohort of 30, picked from Europe-based 1,400 applicants, ended last December. The firm claims “a third” – so at least ten – of this cohort are already working in the VC world.

Successful candidates receive one-on-one mentoring, masterclasses, case study learning, and “deal flow deep dives”. They also enjoy two European summits – one of which at least will likely take place virtually this year.

The VC covers all expenses, and the fellowship itself is completely free.

“One of the most critical elements of the fellowship is that it isn’t run by one firm. But is the result of numerous VCs in the industry coming together,” Thakrar tells Silicon Canals.

“The partnership of VCs behind Included VC can create a genuine impact. They don’t just provide financial assistance to the fellowship, but also give their time to mentor and network with the fellows.”

Read next: VC investment for UK’s female fintech founders up 6% in 2020

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