Just another Network site

SheEO has a plan to build a $1 billion fund for female founders

  • “I don’t want to put my capital into the same old dumb apps that don’t do anything in the world,” said SheEO founder Vicki Saunders.
  • The goal is to get to a $1 billion perpetual fund backed by 1 million investors (or activators, as SheEO calls them) and invested in 10,000 women-led ventures.
  • The fund came up with another way for women entrepreneurs to raise money without navigating the pitfalls of male investors who don’t understand their ideas or their market.
  • SheEO’s model combines crowdfunding, in which small amounts of money are contributed by big groups of people, with strategies taken from established microfinance platforms like Kiva.
  • Saunders, who has a long resume that includes running startups, taking a company public, and working with the World Economic Forum, envisions the model as something that could be repeated for groups besides female founders and outside tech.

“I don’t want to put my capital into the same old dumb apps that don’t do anything in the world.”

Most crowdfunding platforms fund individual ideas. And most organizations use microfinance to support entrepreneurs in the developing world. 

One group of investors thinks both those techniques could help elevate another overlooked group: female founders. 

The group investing platform SheEO is connecting crowdfunding with microfinance to back five female-led startups a year. The name SheEO might bring to mind the failures of a few “feminist” CEOs, but this investment fund’s ideas have enough potential to outstrip its branding. 

“I don’t want to put my capital into the same old dumb apps that don’t do anything in the world.”

“I don’t want to put my capital into the same old dumb apps that don’t do anything in the world,” said SheEO founder Vicki Saunders. “I want to put my capital into female innovators who are strengthening our communities.” 

SheEO recruits 500 women to all contribute $1,100 each—or $550,000 total—to an investing fund. Their money is pooled together to loan to female founders at zero percent interest. The next year, another 500 women (repeats allowed) contribute $1,100 again. When companies pay back their loans within five years, the fund continues to grow. 

At year three in 2017, SheEO has 15 portfolio companies and $1.5 million invested. The goal is to get to a $1 billion perpetual fund backed by 1 million investors (or activators, as SheEO calls them) and invested in 10,000 women-led ventures. 

It’s another…

SheEO has a plan to build a $1 billion fund for female founders