Venture capital funding in the past has remained low for women-owned businesses. By fusing data, gender-based analysis, and their experiences as women into their innovative new way of supporting entrepreneurs this case study details how SheEO has created a new and innovative model of venture capital funding that focuses on women and non-binary entrepreneurs.
- Business design
- Social enterprise/entrepreneurship
In response to gender inequities in venture capital funding, there has been a rise of alternative networks of angel groups, accelerators, and networking organizations that focus on businesses led by women and non-binary people, and SheEO has been at the forefront of the movement. SheEO is a new kind of innovation accelerator. It was officially launched in 2015 in Canada with a goal to provide an ecosystem in which businesses led by women and non-binary people could thrive. Fed up with the masculinized Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship, founder Vicki Saunders sought to turn the system on its head: “We need to actually create a process that allows people to find their own way, feel comfortable in their own skin and to build a business the way they want to, not the way the system tells them they should be doing it …[because] a lot of our business models are broken, a lot of the ways that we are approaching business don’t work.”[i]
Instead of trying to fit women into the existing approaches to entrepreneurial funding which have been shown to exclude women and other marginalized people, SheEO has been building a visionary model that focuses on women and non-binary entrepreneurs to shape their own growth trajectories. As of 2021, SheEO has expanded to the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and has helped 107 Ventures with more than $10 million (CAD) of funding raised by a group of Activators around the world, who contribute as investors, advisors, mentors, and customers of the Ventures.
This case was written by:
Hyeun Lee and Sarah Kaplan.