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Elizabeth Coston McCluskey - Venture Capital: If You Ignore Diversity, You're Missing Opportunity

Elizabeth Coston McCluskey is a Director at CMFG Ventures

Elizabeth Coston McCluskey - Venture Capital: If You Ignore Diversity, You're Missing Opportunity
Aug 2, 2022 · 27 min

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In this episode, impact investor Elizabeth Coston McCluskey answers why so little VC funding goes to female founders and Black and Latinx founders in the U.S, and why investors should invest in startups with diverse teams.

Statistics show that in 2021, 2% of venture capital in the U.S. went to female founders; and from 2015 - 2020, 2.4% went to Black and Latinx. This is not only a gross underrepresentation of diverse founders; this bias is duping investors of opportunity!

Truth: Studies have shown that female founders make more money and diverse leadership teams have a higher likelihood of financial outperformance.

Elizabeth Coston McCluskey is a Director at CMFG Ventures, the venture capital arm of CUNA Mutual Group. She leads the Discovery Fund, which invests in early-stage fintech companies led by underrepresented founders. McCluskey is responsible for sourcing, evaluating and executing deals, and supports a portfolio of over a dozen companies. She joined CUNA Mutual Group in 2021.

Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group, McCluskey was a Principal at Impact Engine, where she helped launch the women-led investment firm’s first venture capital fund. At Impact Engine, she invested in early-stage companies in economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, and health equity. McCluskey began her career at UBS in investment banking and wealth management.

McCluskey graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and received an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

0:00 - Intro

1:53 - How did Elizabeth get into impact investing?

4:15 - Why is there so little VC funding going to female, Black and Latinx founders in the U.S.?

6:18 - Is there a strong business case for investors supporting underrepresented founders?

12:28 - How can investors access financial inclusion opportunities?

13:37 - At what stages does Elizabeth focus on supporting founders?

18:22 - Is progress being made in making VC funding more equitable?

23:11 - What advice does Elizabeth have for those interested in supporting underrepresented founders in the U.S.?


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