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SAP announced that it has supported 200 startups founded or led by a female or member of an underrepresented group as of July 2022. This is six months ahead of the initial goal of 2023.

In January 2019, SAP launched SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive, inclusive entrepreneurship initiative for underrepresented and underestimated entrepreneurs in the business software industry. SAP recognized that diversity yields better innovation, but that most venture funding goes to startups founded or led by a very narrow demographic.

Therefore, SAP pledged to scale its global network of the no-equity-ask external startup program SAP.iO Foundries with a focus on inclusive entrepreneurship. SAP also set an ambitious target of supporting at least 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023. To achieve this, the SAP.iO Foundries program has built a diverse team, communicated a clear startup sourcing process, participated in events and partnered with organizations that support underrepresented founders.

As a result, underrepresented startups now make up 44% of the portfolio of 450 startups in the SAP.iO program and tie or surpass their counterparts in benchmarks used to measure success. They represent:

  • 51% of the exits in the portfolio (18 out of 35)
  • 50% of the unicorns in the portfolio (2 out of 4)
  • 42% in cumulative venture capital raised by startups within the SAP.iO program (US$2.7 billion of $6.6 billion)
  • A greater likelihood to progress in their partnership with SAP

“SAP firmly believes talent is equally distributed globally and opportunity is not,” said Alexa Gorman, Global Head, SAP.iO Foundries and Intrapreneurship, SAP. “We are doing everything we can to provide more access to opportunity to founders everywhere while simultaneously adding incremental innovation and value for SAP customers.”

During the program, startups receive technical and go-to-market support to help them integrate with SAP and become part of a curated ecosystem where their offerings are easily accessible to SAP customers.

One of the most successful startups of the SAP.iO program is female-founded Censia Inc. Recently, Censia’s app was named an SAP endorsed app, a designation achieved by less than 1% of partner solutions offered on the SAP Store site. Censia augments HR management software provided by SAP with AI-powered resume review, passive sourcing and candidate evaluation software. Censia has successfully closed 14 go-to-market opportunities with SAP and major brands such as Tapestry Inc., TJ Maxx and PepsiCo Inc.

Joanna Riley, CEO of Censia, said, “I’m learning lessons that SAP has acquired through years of experience and applying them to my business so that we have a head start. I would recommend any company to look at SAP.iO as it is an invaluable resource for startups, especially ones focused on enterprises.”

The SAP.iO Foundries program plans to build on its momentum. By 2028, it wants 45% of its portfolio to be comprised of startups founded or led by people whose share of venture capital funding in the technology industry is proportionally less than their share of the population. This would be up from 40% in 2018.

The program works to achieve this goal by continuing with its winning execution strategy as well as adding geographical representation as a sourcing focus. For example, SAP.iO Foundries expanded to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2022 and will target specific countries in existing SAP.iO Foundries regions such as Nigeria, Pakistan and others.

To learn more about how SAP.iO is helping innovators start up and scale with SAP, please visit