For decades I’ve been struggling with how to change the numbers.
- 4% of venture capital goes to women.
- 3/400 applications to my first venture fund came from women in the first six months.
- 1% of corporate procurement goes to women-led companies.
- Over 90% of VCs are men.
- Women are not showing up as investors as angels or VCs.
For almost 20 years I've been designing, implementing and experimenting with new business models, programs and initiatives to deal with this depressing reality.
I've tried a lot of things over the years: business plan competitions, accelerator programs, mentorship programs, personally mentoring over 1000 entrepreneurs and on and on.
Each approach I took was really a bandaid solution. I couldn’t figure out how to get underneath the problem – how can we fund and support the kinds of businesses women run (highly capital efficient, revenue generating, strong social impact) in a way that leverages our networks, talent and capital to great a global impact.
And then it slowly dawned upon me. My mindset was the problem. I’ve been thinking about this under our current paradigm and narrative (winner takes all, go big or go home) and with a 5 year lens (let’s solve this NOW). What if I took a longer term view?
And then I realized, this is culture change and it’s going to take decades.
I started experimenting with SheEO a few years ago to see what kind of program we could build to support female entrepreneurs on their own terms and have women engage with their capital that would have a global impact.
It led me to our current model of women (we call them Activators) contributing $1000 each, creating a local pool of capital and then loaning the money out to local female entrepreneurs.
The behavior change that I thought would take decades (and it still might) is showing early sign of hope.
Women who would never have considered applying for funding to grow their businesses are showing up because this model sounds and feels so different. Imagine having thousands of radically generous women on your team.
Ventures who were selected in our pilot less than a year ago are already saying they'll be “Activators for life”.
Twenty somethings who received funding in our early experimentation are showing up to be Activators at this very early stage of their careers.
Ventures who are applying for funding are also becoming Activators
Wantrepreneurs are activating before they even start their business so they can see behind the curtains how a venture gets supported and grows
Activators are showing up for the inspiration to witness the businesses women are starting
Early stage ventures who are not yet profitable are activating because they'd like to access the network of radically generous women and share their own networks and experience.
Women who never considered investing before are asking about how we can do follow-on funding with the companies they’ve fallen in love with because they need more capital.
Timing is everything. And design is critical.
In just over one year, over 100 cities around the world have applied to replicate this model and create the beginning of a parade of women funding, supporting and celebrating women with big ideas to create a better world and a new economic model.
If you’d like to join us and be one of the early pioneers of this new economic model our 2016 campaign is open in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado and Canada. #theladiesarecoming Learn more at www.SheEO.World