A venture capital fund for women

Lynn Freeman talks to serial entrepreneur and founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders, and the co-founder of My Food Bag and former Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung.

SheEO is a venture capital fund for women entrepreneurs, established with money invested by other women. Ms Gattung intends to establish a similar fund here.

Ms Saunders is a key note speaker at a conference in Auckland this weekend, called worldwomen17.

SheEO is helping fund women entrepreneurs

For decades only four per cent of venture capital has gone to women, making it incredibly challenging for female entrepreneurs to get funded and supported. Well, not if serial entrepreneur and award winning mentor Vicki Saunders has anything to say about it.
 

Ojibway entrepreneur creates product for daughter, now it's in 400 stores

Women supporting women — that is the idea behind SheEO, a venture capital business that has women investors supporting women entrepreneurs.

SheEO launched in 2015 and called for 500 female "activators" to invest a thousand dollars each to create a pool of capital of $500,000. That money was given as zero interest loans to five women for their business ideas. Right now, 25 SheEO participants are in the semi-finals phase for the next round of funding.

One of those participants is Patrice Mousseau, an Ojibway from Fort William First Nation, Ont., now living in Vancouver.

“This is the old-boys’ network we never had,” women entrepreneurs say of their female investors

Fans of the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley know Monica Hall as the venture capitalist with the heart of gold, who helps the show's geeky protagonists go from bored programmers to startup superstars. Now life is imitating art. The actress who portrays Monica, Amanda Crew, who is from Langley, B.C., has signed up to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses through SheEO, a Canadian financing community that's now catching fire in the United States.

How Vicki Saunders plans to get a million women involved in venture capital

Vicki Saunders has been to enough pitch competitions in her 25 years as an entrepreneur to know that the spirit of such events—the winner-take-all mentality and the need to contort your business to fit investors’ ideals—was off-putting to her. She suspected plenty of other women might feel the same.

 

So when she had to chance to allocate $500,000 between five female-lead businesses last winter, Saunders, the founder of SheEO, did something different: she asked the women how they wanted the money to be split.