Funding and Spark: Two Key Ingredients to Empower Women Entrepreneurs

EnrichHER Spark National Conference 2018, L to R Suzanne Burks, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Advisor to The Burks Companies, Inc.; Mayan Aiken, Founder & CEO PaperGlass Media, WireTap Media & WireTree Media; Susan Sim Oh, Owner Telemundo Atlanta, Katerina Taylor President & CEO DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Titania Jordan, CPO Bark.us; Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Founder & CEO EnrichHER

In the venture world, less than 2% of all funding goes to women-led companies. This statistic remains true even though women-led companies outperform all males teams by over 63% and most new businesses in the United States are started by women. Furthermore, a study was done by Massachusetts’ Babson College, called the Diana Project with this striking finding:

“In 1999, the number of women partners in venture capital firms was 10 percent. Today, it is 6 percent. And even though women-led venture-backed companies earn 12 percent more revenue than male-led companies, only 2.7 percent of venture-backed companies from 2011 to 2013 had female CEOs.”

While venture is important, less than 1% of companies qualify for or want equity-based financing. For all of these reasons, I created EnrichHER. EnrichHER focuses on building ecosystems that help women get the necessary funding to grow incredible ventures through capital (EnrichHER Funding) and connections (EnrichHER Spark). EnrichHER Funding enables smart investing with social impact that serves investors who want to make money right away. Through the platform, members of our community can take their idea and connect directly with investors who can help them grow through debt-based investment.

Overview of EnrichHER as seen on Atlanta Tech Edge

EnrichHER Spark was the first obvious thing that EnrichHER could create. EnrichHER’s vision is that access to capital, networking and education is boundless for women entrepreneurs. Because of this, we started connecting with women-led ventures through our ecosystem building activities. Our goal is to bring together organizations, groups, and service providers so that resources can be aggregated for successful application to grow women-led ventures. Though many groups realize that there is a problem in the support of women-led ventures, many are not working together to leverage their impact in changing the current state of affairs. Because of our push, our first EnrichHER Spark event engaged with over 30 organizations including the National Women’s Business Council, Operation Hope, Startup Grind, BB&T Bank, Atlanta City Council, Emprendedores Latinos, Atlanta Black Chambers, Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Project, and the Center for Civic Innovation. Furthermore, we had a team of over 30 individuals who volunteered their time to make the initiative come to light. Since launch, we have received requests from across the country to bring EnrichHER Spark nationwide. So, we created a plan to do just that.

EnrichHER Spark Inaugural Event. L to R Genevieve Bos, Managing Partner of Thought Capital; Kimberly Blackwell, Founder & CEO PMM & Advisor NWBC; Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Founder & CEO EnrichHER; Susan Oh; Owner Telemundo Atlanta; & Veronica Maldonado-Torres, Program Director Georgia Protege Project

In 2018 we, hosted ecosystem building events in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and our National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We were able to bring together organizations such as Walkers Legacy, Facebook, Cross Culture Ventures, Golden Seeds, Bootstrap Capital, the Jump Fund and Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs to provide resources to women-led ventures. We will roll out EnrichHER Spark to additional cities in the future to continue connecting women with the resources and support they need to be successful. We understand that being part of a community of likeminded women entrepreneurs increases both the success rate of community members, but also facilitates the sharing of resources and continued motivation.

EnrichHER Spark Washington, D.C. hosted at Halcyon Incubator; Photo by J. Braxton Photography

After the success with our first ecosystem building activity with EnrichHER Spark, it also hit me that inspiration and education are not enough to see real change in funding for women founders. At that point, I thought of an investment platform that would connect both accredited and non-accredited investors directly to women-led enterprises. I wanted a solution that would help all women, not just high tech women-led companies. I met many people including the founder of PartPic, Jewel Burks, to discuss this concept. Jewel told me that she wished that the solution was something that she had while she was on her path of raising $2 million for PartPic. She told me that having a debt-based solution would have helped her retain equity and allow her to spend much more time growing her company instead of having over 200 investor meetings. After receiving this push of encouragement from one of the only handful of Black women entrepreneurs who have successfully raised $2 million or more in venture capital, I knew that I had to try my best to make this vision a reality.

EnrichHER Spark National Conference 2018; L to R Marlon C. Nichols, Managing Partner of Cross Culture Ventures, Jewel Burks, Co-Founder of PartPic, Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Founder of EnrichHER, Kristina Montague, Managing Partner The JumpFund; Grace Fricks, President & CEO Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs

EnrichHER Funding is an SEC/FINRA approved platform that allows members of the EnrichHER Community to take their ideas and connect directly with investors. The founders each create profiles on the platforms that detail their funding needs, use of funds and business concept. Funders are able to review all opportunities on the platform, which detail the founder profile information as well as investment terms and interest rate. The funders are able to then invest directly through the platform. The EnrichHER Funding platform facilitates legal paperwork and transfers all funds between founders and funders. By doing this, we’re hoping that all investors will participate whether they have $100 or $100,000 to invest, and investors won’t have to wait for years to receive repayment of any investment dollars like what is typical in equity-based investments.

EnrichHER Funding investment platform

In the past year, we’ve featured 163 women-led businesses who have been awarded over $10 million in funding from a variety of organizations. Furthermore, over 19,000 people have participated in the EnrichHER Ecosystem. As a result, we are excited about the prospects of our funding platform to help change the funding discussion for women in business. Our goal is to facilitate investment funding into 10,000 women-led businesses within the next 5 years.

EnrichHER Spark 2018 Washington, D.C. L to R Arion Long, Founder & CEO Femly Box; Emily Rasowsky, Founder, Women in Tech Campaign; Aurelia Flores, Athena Digital Media Group, Amy Fan, M.D. Founder & Pediatrician, Kinder; and Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Founder & CEO EnrichHER

Do not wait until tomorrow to start working toward your dream. Whether you want to contribute to making a social impact by investing in the future of women-led companies, or if you have an exciting business growth strategy for your company, EnrichHER is here to help. Join our investment funding platform today.

How can you be involved?

Invest in a female founder here.

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Originally published at facesoffounders.org on August 30, 2018.