Women helping women—something the entrepreneurial world doesn’t nearly see enough of. So as a response, Vicki Saunders—global influencer, mentor and serial entrepreneur—created SheEO, a member-funded venture program supported entirely by women for women.
The model launched in Canada in July 2015, drawing in 500 members (activators), raising $500,000 in funding and supporting five female entrepreneurs and their new ventures. We spoke with Vicki about her vision behind SheEO, what it means to be radically generous and how to get involved.
As an entrepreneur, Vicki saw a looming gap in the current business model—one that significantly underfunded female entrepreneurs. So, in an effort to change that, she launched SheEO.
“We created a model to finance, support and celebrate female entrepreneurs. The reason we’re doing that is because less than four per cent of venture capital goes to women. It’s incredibly difficult to get funding as a female entrepreneur in general—and it goes back decades.”
The SheEO journey started in 2013 as a business incubator experiment, pairing together aspiring female entrepreneurs with seasoned female entrepreneurs. The success of the experimental cohort led to the official launch of the SheEO venture program in 2015.
In essence, here’s what the program is all about:
“We coach everybody to be very bold,” explains Vicki. “The second you’re in front of the other women, you’re told to share your information and determine how they can help you. Assuming everyone is radically generous, what’s stopping you from asking? It’s all self-selection in this, nobody is going to send you a list of people on a platter. You have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.”
After creating SheEO, Vicki saw the desire to create a brand new culture that would change how women supported other women. This led to the coining of “radical generosity.”
“I think there’s this idea in the market that we have to work 24/7 and step over people to win in business,” she explains. “I actually think we need to be radically generous to each other—and also to ourselves.”
Here, the push for generosity can be summed up in three ways:
As the program extends into the US this year, Vicki says the venture program has also received worldwide attention. “We’ve got almost 100 cities in the pipeline around the world who want to be part of this. So it’s gaining a lot of traction in these markets.”
With a clear long-term demand for the program, Vicki shares her short-term excitement for the application launch in September. “We hope that some of the stories of these businesses will draw more activators forward to support the SheEO model.”
The second annual SheEO venture program is coming this fall, so sign up in your region if you’re interested in becoming an activator. And entrepreneurs: Venture applications open on September 1st and close on October 31st. If you want to part of this push for radical generosity, learn more on SheEO.world.
“We think it would be a much better world out there if women were at the table with men designing the future.”