While you are out there Chasing Unicorns,
we are building a better model
The world has been trying to fix women for years. There is a mantra that women aren’t bold enough, aren’t confident enough, and don’t take enough risks. But the world of bold risk taking by overly confident types spouting complex, “scalable” models crashed our economy in 2008 and cost $13 trillion in a bailout. And it is likely to happen again. We’ve had enough of that model. We need a new one.
I’ve spent most of my life being the only woman on panels at conferences as a tech entrepreneur and one of the few woman seeking venture funding. And, as a reformed venture capitalist, I’ve spent my fair share of time wondering why only 4% of funding goes to women and how to change it. I’ve experimented broadly trying to solve this problem over the past 20 years. The reality is, the vast majority of women (and men) don’t need venture financing.
We need a different model of support and funding. One that is designed specifically to tackle the kind of challenges female entrepreneurs face; women are chronically under-financed, under-supported and under-celebrated in the business world.
Less than 4% of venture financing goes to women. That may be changing a bit but it’s been the same for decades despite a ton of data and articles lamenting the reality. And, women tend to have a harder time getting financing (“can your husband/dad co-sign for that?”). So many women keep it small running the kinds of businesses we can without outside capital.
Less than 5% of female entrepreneurs actively seek a mentor or advisor. We’ve learned that some of this is attributed to women wanting to be ‘ready’ for a mentor or advisor, but it’s also attributed to the fact that many women we’ve talked to don’t feel like they know how to be an advisor; like there’s some recipe you need to have.
Our magazines, newspapers and blogs are full of quotes from male entrepreneurs, stories of guys succeeding and male perspectives on success. Women are rarely quoted, reported on or celebrated. We can’t list the number of “Tips from Top Business Successes” blogposts we’ve read that don’t quote a single women. Because our dominant paradigm for success is go-big-or-go-home, we repeatedly ignore all of the sustainable, successful, thriving businesses we see out there run by women on their own terms.
It’s our invitation to 1000 women to contribute $1,000 in an act of radical generosity designed to dramatically transform how we support finance and celebrate women-led ventures who are building a better world. Everyone who contributes $1,000 will take part in selecting 10 ventures.
Selected ventures get 0% interest loans and access to the expertise, buying power and networks of the 1000 women activators to get to the next stage of their business.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller
Our current venture capital model is to invest in 10 and hope one hits the jackpot. And our economic model has resulted in 85 people having the same wealth as 3.5 billion people.
The way to start engaging women in investing for a better world is not trying to convince them to join the current model but to create a new one.
So why now?
The largest wealth transfer in history is happening right now and 75% of it is going to be in the hands of women. We have the money.
We make 80% of buying decisions. We know what we like. We control how money gets spent. Now it’s time for us to be supporting the kinds of companies, products and services we want to buy.
We are starting businesses at twice the pace of men. Women started two-thirds of the businesses in Canada last year and 68% of them did so without outside capital. And, 73% of them are profitable.
Our Radical Approach is to loan money to ventures who have at least $50K in revenue and do all we can to support their growth through our practical experience, networks of influence and buying power. The Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth found that “a 20% increase in total revenues among majority female-owned enterprises will contribute an additional $2B per annum to the Canadian economy.”
Today, SheEO is calling for an Act of Radical Generosity to start the journey toward a better world. We hope you’ll join us.