Gattung seeks backers for women-led ventures
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.
My Food Bag co-founder Theresa Gattung is helping to launch a global scheme, SheEO, in New Zealand.