The technology sector offers plenty of lucrative deals for private equity investors. But now one of the biggest private equity firms in the world is showing its support in an unlikely ally: a tech non-profit.
KKR announced on Tuesday it is partnering with Girls Who Code, which is a program aimed at closing the gender gap in the tech industry. The private equity firm told Fortune that its portfolio companies GoDaddy and First Data would help to sponsor a Summer Immersion Program for Girls Who Code. Both companies are tech-focused so the sponsorship is more than fitting. The sponsorship deal will see GoDaddy and Fist Data support 20 students free on the camp, which focuses on building skills in fields such as web development and design, robotics, and mobile development.
KKR’s investment in the non-profit is not a one-off event. The private equity firm has said it’ll double any donations its employees make in the organisation this month. All the raised money will then go on to pay for student stipends, software, and measurement and evaluation.
Furthermore, the private equity firm is planning to help over 100 of its portfolio companies to get involved. The move would help Girls Who Code to expand its popular summer program. It currently receives more applications than it has resources to accommodate the girls.
Ted Oberwager, a member of KKR’s private equity and TMT growth teams, said in the official statement, “As the tech industry expands and companies increasingly need to integrate technology in order to succeed, this imbalance will not only impact Silicon Valley, but every industry.”
Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani commented on the deal by stating, “We need women in technical roles at all companies, and the commitment from KKR, GoDaddy and First Data will help provide the necessary training and experience to empower more girls to pursue majors and eventually careers in computer science.”
Nurturing the future talent
The strategy to support future technology stars can be a fruitful one for the private equity firm. According to Hannah Nance, the director of corporate partnerships at Girls Who Code, over 90% of participants in the summer camp feel strongly about pursuing a career in computer science due to the program
Nance told the Fortune, “Who better to partner with than a firm that is investing in companies that are influencing our day-to-day lives?” She continued by saying, “[These companies] are likely going to one day employ the girls that are going through these programs”.
KKR’s decision to make its tech-focused portfolio companies invest in these sorts of programs can help these companies nurture future talent. Technology is not just important for companies operating in the sector, but technology has influence in the everyday life of most people and companies. Ted Oberwager told Fortune the program is “just the start” because of technology’s growing importance in the world of business.
Improving inclusion in private equity
KKR has been pursuing an Inclusion and Diversity strategy as it launched its council on the subject in 2014. The private equity firm is hoping to create a more diverse workplace and to have more women involved – something especially the private equity sector is struggling to do.