(Adds that Launch With GS aims to generate profits)
By Rishika Dugyala
June 19 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc will pump $500 million into companies led, founded or owned by women as it steps up efforts to close the gender investing gap, the Wall Street bank said on Tuesday.
The program, Goldman Sachs second geared toward female entrepreneurs, will also help clients invest directly in private, late-stage companies or provide seed capital for women starting their own funds.
"The bottom line is this makes sense for our business because investing and helping companies grow is our business," Stephanie Cohen, Goldman Sachs chief strategy officer, said in a statement. "We also hope it makes a difference for women who have big ideas but find themselves cut out of the funding ecosystem."
Cohen cited statistics showing that only 2 percent of U.S. venture capital in 2017 went to companies run entirely by women and just 12 percent went to teams with at least one woman. Less than 2 percent of U.S. private equity firms are women-owned, she said.
The program, called "Launch With GS," follows Goldman Sachs "10,000 Women," which debuted in 2008 to provide female entrepreneurs in developing economies with business education and access to capital. An online education component was added in May.
While 10,000 Women was philanthropic, Launch With GS aims to generate profits for Goldman and its clients.
The bank is also taking steps to improve gender balance internally, aiming to have women comprise half of its global workforce by 2021.
Only five of the 31 executives listed on Goldman's management committee are women, one of whom is retiring. The bank also reported a wide gender pay gap in Britain for its international business earlier this year. (Reporting by Rishika Dugyala Editing by Toni Reinhold)