Gat­tung seeks back­ers for women-led ven­tures

The Press - - Business - CHLOE WIN­TER

A new ini­tia­tive aimed at sup­port­ing busi­ness ven­tures run by fe­male en­trepreneurs is half­way to meet­ing its goal of sign­ing up 500 back­ers.

SheEO was launched in New Zealand in Oc­to­ber fronted by My Food Bag co-founder and for­mer Tele­com chief ex­ec­u­tive Theresa Gat­tung.

It is a branch of the in­ter­na­tional SheEO scheme, which was founded by Cana­dian busi­ness­woman Vicki Saun­ders and al­ready op­er­ates in Canada and the United States.

It is seek­ing 500 women to con­tribute $1000 each to cre­ate a fund­ing pool of $500,000.

The money is then dis­trib­uted among five fe­male-led ven­tures as an in­ter­est-free loan. So far 260 women have in­vested, and about 150 busi­nesses have signed up.

Gat­tung said the in­vestors, who are called ‘‘ac­ti­va­tors’’, not only gave money, but could also of­fer their sup­port as a men­tor.

‘‘It’s sign­ing on to give women a leg up, be­cause it’s so much harder for women at that stage of their busi­ness to get fund­ing.’’

In the US, just 4 per cent of ven­ture cap­i­tal fund­ing goes to women. There was no com­pa­ra­ble data for New Zealand, she said.

SheEO works by busi­nesses pay­ing back the loan in full within five years. At that point, five new busi­nesses are cho­sen.

So far, all the US and Cana­dian firms cho­sen had been suc­cess­ful.

Busi­nesses that had re­ceived the loans in­cluded a com­pany that de­vel­oped a bike for peo­ple with mo­bil­ity is­sues, as well as a com­pany that made eczema cream from nat­u­ral prod­ucts.

The New Zealand busi­nesses who had signed up so far sold a mix­ture of prod­ucts and ser­vices.

Gat­tung said it was im­por­tant for women to sup­port each other.

‘‘En­trepreneurial en­ergy is the en­ergy of our times, and I be­lieve if women can shift the dial in the en­trepreneurial sense, and at the same time shift the dial else­where, we can get huge ben­e­fit over­all.’’

Busi­nesses have un­til the end of Jan­uary to sign up, while in­vestors have un­til the end of March.

PHOTO: CHRIS SKEL­TON/ STUFF

My Food Bag co-founder Theresa Gat­tung is help­ing to launch a global scheme, SheEO, in New Zealand.

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