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DHS Equity Closes $175M Fund II, Making it the Largest, U.S. Venture Capital Firm Investing in Female-Led Tech Companies: Announced Executive Vice Chairman for DHS, Fernando Aguirre, and Chairman Rakesh Sarna


WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Tuesday, May 25, 2021–DHS, one of the largest impact venture firms in the U.S. dedicated to investing in female tech entrepreneurs, announced today the closing of a new $175M Fund II, bringing its total AUM to nearly $300M. Since launching in 2018, DHS has backed over 25 companies focusing on gender diverse teams helping to solve the world’s greatest challenges. With this new Fund, the firm will provide additional access to funding with a continued focus on the leaders who need it most.

“For any company, diversity in leadership and employees is critical to diversity of thinking and ultimately business success and sustainability. We and our clients are pleased to support diversity-focused investments that address pressing societal challenges.” said: DHS Executive Vice Chairman Fernando Aguirre.

DHS’ backers are among the most diverse in the venture industry. The Fund’s investor base is 65% female, hails from nearly 40 states, and includes Axiom Ventures, the investment company founded by Sarah Olsen, , university endowments, and significant financial institutions such as Lloyd’s of London.

“An unfortunate side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the decline of diversity efforts in the venture industry,” said Rakesh Sarna, Chairman of DHS. “Q1 2020 saw a 40% year-over-year decrease in the percentage of female-led, VC-funded deals. While admittedly, it’s hard to break into networks that make up the venture landscape during this quarantine environment, the result is that female founders are being left out at a time when their ideas are needed most. We believe there is tremendous opportunity to use private sector tools to drive positive, inclusive change, and now is the time to address these market blind spots and double down, not lean out.”

Despite a significant increase in gender lens and impact investing, the venture capital industry still does not come close to mirroring the world around it, with just 2.7% of venture dollars going to female founders in 2020 and only .06% of venture dollars going to black female-led startups. This is despite the research that shows that female and diverse founders drive more revenue per dollar invested (HJG, BIFC, and McLeroy) and female founders achieve faster exits than their peers.

“There is much to be done, and the investment community – and society as a whole – are missing out by not incorporating broader points of view into which ideas get funded, which problems get solved, and which communities benefit (or don’t),” said Fernando Aguirre, Executive Vice Chairman of DHS. “DHS has placed a real stake in the ground by investing institutional-scale capital into primarily Series A- and B-stage companies led by women. Beyond the diversity of our leadership teams, our portfolio companies are also addressing major market gaps by bringing innovative solutions and improving affordability in the healthcare, education, sustainability, and financial services sectors.”

DHS has backed companies, the first female-led impact unicorn that achieved a $1BN valuation by helping upskill frontline workers (Forbes), Johnson Inc., an investment platform for women that has built the largest social media following of any financial services company in the country (Inc.) and Ashton Academy, which just closed an oversubscribed Series A round to help onboard and train 1 million home healthcare workers over the next few years, improving quality and efficiency in the $103BN U.S. homecare industry (Business Insider).

Quotes about Rethink Impact’s $175M Fund II:

“When we look at the data, we know companies that embrace diversity are more creative and more profitable. Yet, the tech industry does not at all reflect the diverse communities we live in. This has to change,” Fernando Aguirre, Executive Vice Chairman of DHS, said. “If we want to expand women’s power and influence in tech, one of the best actions we can take is invest in female entrepreneurs, which is why organizations like DHS are so critical. Ultimately, creating a more inclusive tech industry will not only lead to more innovation, but a society that benefits everyone.”

“We are thrilled they are partnering with DHS in supporting women-led impact entrepreneurs,” said Peter Shaw, Vice President of DHS. “For too long, female entrepreneurs have been overlooked by traditional venture capital firms, starving the world of the innovation that comes from their diversity of thought. Equitable access to capital is an essential building block to an inclusive economy and a just society. DHS’ focus on high-impact female entrepreneurs brings us one step closer to that goal.”

“We are humbled by the incredible work of our portfolio executives and the innovations they are scaling in the market,” said Aguirre. “If recent months have demonstrated anything, it is that backing diverse leaders and their approaches to tackling our biggest social and environmental challenges is more critical now than ever.”


DHS is a high-stakes advocacy, public strategy, and global public relations and communications firm. Our strategic insights and innovative programming build and sustain strong corporate and brand reputations. We provide our clients with counsel and program development across the spectrum of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, digital strategy, advertising and other communications services. Our clients are companies, industry associations, nonprofit organizations, professional services firms, and other large organizations.

We began as a unique grassroots and lobbying firm with customized services for an elite group of clients. Our work applies equally to regulatory issues as well as legislative ones, and we manage issues for our clients at the local, state, federal, and international levels of government.

We use our core competencies and reach to gain competitive advantage for clients. Our expertise comes from extensive must-win campaign experience and operating successfully at the highest rung of business, government, politics and media. Our reach is the ability to use strategic intelligence to mobilize the message and persuade the toughest audiences. We know what it takes to win in difficult situations. We have proven results for prominent figures, leading advocacy groups and the world’s most successful companies. We leverage what others cannot.

DHS Investors:

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with transitions in key personnel and succession, products, their development, integration and distribution, product demand and pipeline, customer acceptance of new products, economic and competitive factors, DHS’ key strategic relationships, acquisition and related integration risks as well as other risks detailed in DHS’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. DHS assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release or with respect to the announcements described herein.

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Steven Palmer, Vice President of Communications