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May 9, 2022

Investing in Chingona Ventures’ Bold, Change-Making Fund

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Today, we’re excited to announce our investment in Chingona Ventures and their $52M Fund II – the largest-ever fundraise by a sole Latina general partner. Since launch, Chingona Ventures has been committed to fighting bias in the venture industry. The firm backs amazing entrepreneurs who better represent the wide range of backgrounds in the entrepreneur ecosystem. Their mission is aligned with Norwest’s own commitment to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In the past year, we have made similar investments in Ulu Ventures and Serena Ventures, whose funds also back women entrepreneurs and founders from diverse backgrounds.

A Brand Name as Bold as Its Leader

Chingona’s bold name – Spanish slang for “badass woman” – reflects its intrepid leader Samara Mejia Fernandez. From our first conversation, we were blown away by Samara’s focus and the clarity of her vision for Chingona Ventures and Fund II. Through Chingona, Samara has set out to create outsized returns by investing in too-often-overlooked founders who are uniquely positioned to understand their core customers in rapidly growing market sectors.

As we began to build our relationship with Samara, we were astonished by the outpouring of excitement and support from other founders and investors. Many were eager to express their admiration for Samara, which confirmed our belief that the venture community needs more investors like her. We believe that representation among investors can build a more diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem. Samara has built that vision into the DNA of Chingona Ventures. 

In a few short years, Chingona Ventures has established a strong brand and built a thriving portfolio led by founders of all backgrounds. We’re proud to partner with Samara and the Chingona team as they continue to invest in early-stage founders from non-traditional backgrounds. 

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Chingona Founding Partner Samara Mejia Hernandez and Norwest VP Jessica Yi in Chicago sharing a meal

Another Step Toward a More Diverse Ecosystem

We still have a long way to go to close the racial and gender gap in venture funding. Take Latinx representation as an example. In early 2022, Crunchbase reported early-stage investing in Latinx-founded startups had stalled. On the other side of the table, Latinx investors still comprise less than 2 percent of VCs. At the early stages of a company’s journey, empathy and patience are needed to recognize and support promising startups and founders who may be overlooked under current dynamics. It is crucial to have representation among investors for those dynamics to change. 

As we celebrate Chingona Ventures’ Fund II, the team at Norwest is excited to grow our partnership and continue our pledge to move the venture ecosystem toward a better future. Congratulations to Samara and the entire team at Chingona Ventures! 

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