How Wharton Alumnae Founders & Funders (WAFFA) Came to Be

These female entrepreneurs saw large gender-based gaps in the startup ecosystem — and set out to address them.

Photo: Courtesy of Shannon Grant

Looking at the Numbers

Digging into PitchBook’s university reports for the University of Pennsylvania, Jarah found that in 2018, only 13% of founders from the university were women. Even more surprisingly, of the venture funding raised by Penn founders, only 6% went to women.

Organizing WAFFA

Alice and Jarah set out to speak with other female founders, and sent out an email to a large group in their hometown of San Francisco. The response was overwhelming: every woman described similar challenges with access to capital. The women organized a brunch to discuss the problem, and the tea was spilled: Networks, resources, support, even the ability to walk into a pitch and be treated like a founder rather than a hobbyist — these were issues for everyone. “It’s surprisingly rewarding when you find out that it’s not just you,” Alice recalled.

WAFFA’s Reason for Being

Alice and Jarah started the effort to bring WAFFA to life to address issues like a lack of networks that facilitate access to critical resources, as well as the doubt and hesitation that often hinders women from exercising self-promotion in pursuing all available resources.

WAFFA Going Forward

Today, WAFFA has grown into a community that seeks to help its members face both internal and external challenges.

Wharton Alumnae Founders & Funders Association (WAFFA) accelerates the success of women in the startup ecosystem. Join us: HelloWaffa.org