Five finalists have been announced for VWS Pathfinder, a global plant-based pitching competition for women founders. The competition, run by Vegan Women Summit, received over 800 applications.
Applications came from 31 countries and came from diverse backgrounds — 60 percent of founders who applied were women of colour, and more than a quarter were black.
The finalists will take part in the virtual event this Saturday December 5, pitching live to an investor jury to compete for the $50,000 prize.
The five finalists are:
- Aki Kaltenbach, Founder and CEO of Canadian plant-based seafood company Save Da Sea Foods.
- Astrid Prajogo, Founder and CEO of Chinese alt-meat company Haofood.
- Courtney Blagrove, Co-founder of vegan ice cream parlour Whipped Urban Dessert Lab in New York.
- Isabella Iglesias-Musachio, Co-founder of German mushroom-based alt-meat company Kinoko Labs.
- Renana Krebs, Co-founder and CEO of Israeli sustainable textiles company Algalife.
Over thirty founders and CEOs will be present at the event, along with a range of investors. Speakers will include Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamery and Shama Sukul Lee, CEO of Sunfed. Stray Dog Capital, Big Idea Ventures, and Purple Orange Ventures will be among the investors.
Women founders have long been pioneers in the plant-based sector, but for many, it isn’t easy. A survey conducted by Vegan Women Summit found that 75 percent of women had experienced gender bias in the plant-based industry, with many having suffered harassment or discrimination.
But many have prevailed despite the challenges, with research showing that investments in women-led companies perform 63 percent better than those in all-male teams.
“The thing I’m looking forward to the most at VWSPathfinder is meeting and sharing stories with other female founders as passionate about the plant-based movement and the collective impact we can have as I am,” said VWS Pathfinder finalist Aki Kaltenbach.