Sick and tired of the male-defined, male-funded model of entrepreneurship, she decided to get out of it, having had enough. However, instead of trying to fix a system that was so deeply rooted in bias, Vicki Saunders started her own ‘club’ SheEO, never wanting to part of the boys’.
The fall of the Berlin Wall triggered something within her
Today, SheEO aims to ‘recruit groups of 500 women who each donate $1,100 to a fund that makes zero-interest loans of $100,000 to 5 companies founded and run by women’, according to Forbes. Knowing first-hand how difficult it is for women to get funded by VCs, Saunders’ model supports women all over the world, from Asia to Latin America. Her work doesn’t end here; she has also mentored over 1000 women over her 30-year career. Starting off with a master’s degree in Comparative Foreign Policy in Canada, she went off to Europe to take a break before her PhD. She was there when the Berlin Wall fell and was enveloped by people around her dreaming of a better future due to their newfound freedom. It was there that the entrepreneurship bug bit her and she started an English language school and the rest is history.
She won’t fund “dumb apps” that don’t help people
Beginning in 2013, SheEO has created a mission to reach 1 million female activators and a fund of $1 billion by 2026, which will be able to support 10,000 female innovators every year, forever. Passionate about supporting women-owned business, her current favourite is The Alinker, founded by Barbara Alinker, who has completely reinvented the walker and the wheelchair, giving users their dignity back. Her adult tricycle in bright yellow is something that she created 3 years ago. Saunders said, “I don’t want to put my capital into the same old dumb apps that don’t do anything in the world. I want to put my capital into female innovators who are strengthening our communities.” Having first tested out her funding model in Canada in 2015, it soon expanded to the US and New Zealand and will soon reach Netherlands, Australia, and Mexico.
Driven crazy that women find it hard to get their businesses funded, Saunders’ action is something that the world is in desperate need of. From funding artificial intelligence, hardware for disabilities, food, and education, it is inevitable that SheEO will soon scale every sphere of entrepreneurship.
Image credit: www.vickisaunders.com