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People in Your Neighborhood: La Jollan Rose Vitale aims to fund female-led companies

La Jolla resident Rose Vitale believes women are undervalued in business.
(Courtesy of Rose Vitale)

La Jolla resident Rose Vitale believes women in business are undervalued, and she wants to direct capital to ventures founded and led by females.

To that end, Vitale founded FundHer World Capital and will make a $1 million donation to Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Rainforest Partnership, which implements conservation projects to protect tropical rainforests from deforestation and works to help rainforest communities in Ecuador and Peru become economically self-sufficient.

Vitale, a managing partner of DRA Family Office, a private investment firm in San Diego, has more than 15 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and investor. She said she created FundHer World Capital “to address the major issues and the major lack of funding that women [and] female-led companies have.”

“When I first got into the venture world … I saw the inequity in terms of what women get for venture funding,” she said.

FundHer World Capital works to address that by aiming to deploy more than $100 million over the next five years into female-led organizations.

Vitale is looking to support such companies in any location nationwide, though there is a focus on San Diego.

Through FundHer, Vitale hopes to “find companies that are in growth mode, the companies that have a proven track record to a pathway to expand their business, but they can’t get the traditional financing from the banks. We come in and provide the growth capital to really allow that expansion.”

Funding often is withheld from women because some financiers “don’t believe that women have the ability to create successful businesses,” Vitale said. “I think so many times people … undervalue women in terms of where we’re going and what we can do for businesses.”

She said she wants to “take away all those obstacles and be an avenue for women to have direct access to the kind of funding that they need to scale their business.”

Vitale said women are as capable as men of establishing businesses with the sustainability to grow revenue.

“Women are the new asset class,” she said.

Her announcement of the $1 million gift to Rainforest Partnership is her first foray into the nonprofit sector. She said female founders of all types of organizations need access to funding.

Vitale met Rainforest Partnership’s chief executive, Niyanta Spelman, two years ago, and she said Spelman’s “initiatives and the work she has done over the last 14 years … really inspired me to want to learn more about the impact she has created with very little money.”

Vitale said she was motivated to branch out into philanthropy after learning how Spelman wants “to be able to create products and services that come from the rainforest to create a for-profit entity to support their nonprofit work.”

Vitale said she believes the gift, given through DRA Family Office, will help Rainforest Partnership “create a completely sustainable business model.”

If nonprofits learn how to operate as for-profit entities, their impact will go further, she said. “I truly believe women have the ability to do that through their compassion, their skills, the way they know how to develop relationships.

“As a female business owner, I think they understand what it’s like to fight for one more day and now I’m in a fortunate position to help them.”

People in Your Neighborhood shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. ◆