Accelerator for women-run funds to expand to Los Angeles, London

Kelly Williams

Private Equity Women Investor Network plans to expand Project Pinklight–an accelerator program designed to help women launch their own private equity funds. The program addresses an appalling lack of diversity among founding partners.

From beachheads in New York City and San Francisco, where participating firms have closed on a total of some $300 million, the organization plans to roll out the program to Los Angeles and London, Kelly Williams, PEWIN founding chair,  told PECW.

In each of its regional headquarters PEWIN expects to usher three to four firms through the accelerator every year, said Williams.

Project Pinklight is staffed with female LPs and GPs who act as mentors, Williams said, and you have to be a member of PEWIN to go through it. One of the early participants enjoyed a one-and-done fundraise, Williams said. Prelude Growth Partners, founded by Neda Daneshzadeh and Alicia Sontag, in early 2018 closed an $80 million fund earmarked for investments in consumer companies.

A second early graduate, Chicago-based Kinzie Capital, co-founded by Suzanne Yoon and David Namkung, closed its debut co-investment fund at $20 million last week. The pool is earmarked for under-valued or underperforming consumer, manufacturing and services companies in the lower middle market.

“They did incredibly well,” said Williams, adding that eight of 11 participating firms have so far completed the program, and that five of those eight have had either first or final closes on their funds. “We’re really proud of them.”

PEWIN, which describes itself as “the pre-eminent organization for senior women leaders in private equity,” has more than 350 members in North America. Only 9 percent of senior investment roles in buyout and growth equity firms around the world are occupied by women, according to data provider Preqin.

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