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.

Vicki Saunders: Interview on KGNU Radio

We’ve all had an entrepreneurial moment when we thought a product or business might be just the thing the public is looking for.  But most of us didn’t have the money or know the venture capitalists who might ALSO think we had a great idea.  It turns out women have a much harder time than men getting financing to bring their ideas to the marketplace.  But as Roz Brown reports, a new business model has come to Colorado that could change that.  

How One Entrepreneur Is Inspiring Radical Generosity in Thousands of Women

Females leaders have been under some of the brightest spotlights the last few years, record-breaking Olympic gymnast Simone Biles to needs-no-introduction Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t be more pleased to see women stealing the thunder in all sorts of arenas. But at the same time, I often see headlines like “How to Negotiate Like a Man” or “Women Should Stop Using These Words at Work,” that try to turn the fairer sex into something they’re not. So I was refreshed to sit down recently with Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, a new model to finance and support female entrepreneurs, who told me that the foundation of her venture is one simple question: What are the amazing things that women do differently?

Supporting each other, socializing, and creating networks are just a few of women’s greatest strengths. Currently in Canada, Colorado, LA, and the Bay Area (to come in India and NYC in 2017), SheEO finances women by bringing together 1,000 women per community and asking each to contribute $1,000 each as an act of radical generosity. That money is then loaned to female entrepreneurs at 0% interest, who also get access to the group’s networks, buying power, and expertise. It’s like a hive of bees—all working together for a common goal.

Watch my video interview with Vicki below to learn more about how she’s inspiring radical generosity and a whole new force of female founders. I can’t wait to see what’s next for SheEO.

Supporting Women Business Owners Through Radical Generosity

In 2015, 80 women from BMO joined with hundreds of other women across Canada to be the founding Activators of SheEO’s Radical Generosity, a new initiative to finance, support and celebrate female entrepreneurs. We collectively raised $500,000 to fund 5 female entrepreneurs who are building new mindsets, new models and new solutions for a better world.