For her whole life, Toni Desrosiers has been told she has too many ideas. If she were a man, we’d call her an inventor, but she’s not. Toni’s latest creation is Abeego, a breathable food wrap that allows food to stay alive longer. An avocado wrapped with Abeego stays green for 4 days; a wrapped cut lemon lasts 10 days. Very cool, yes, but traditional investors took a pass. Why? They didn’t see the market opportunity (You’re going to take on Saran Wrap? Really?), plus she had no business degree. SheEO saw right through those ‘obstacles’ though, and selected her venture.
Right away, the SheEO coaches got to work. They helped Toni identify her strengths and found just the operations person she needed. And then came the results. The company’s revenues are now up 500%, proving what SheEO understands: In the right environment, women can thrive.
Wait! What is SheEO?
SheEO is a leading global innovation in the female entrepreneur marketplace. The radical new model, which finances, supports and celebrates female entrepreneurs, has received global attention by capturing the hearts and minds of women around the world.
How much do you really know about inequality in the workforce? It’s 2017 but some of these statistics will make you think it’s 1917. Take the Gender Gap IQ Quiz to highlight Radical Generosity Week.
Who is Vicki Saunders and why did you launch SheEO?
I’m a serial entrepreneur, a mentor to the next generation of change-makers and an advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive global transformation. When I look at the world, it seems like everything is broken. We live in a society that was designed by men, with only their perspective in mind. Women were not at the table to co-create this world and we can feel the result of that out-of-balance approach.
For generations, women’s innovations have been sitting on the sidelines underfunded, under-supported and under-celebrated. We only receive 4% of venture capital and $1 out of every $23 loaned by traditional institutions go to women. And, just fyi, we are not a niche market! We are 50% of the population.
Women have all that we need to change this. We make 80% of purchasing decisions, are about to inherit 75% of the largest wealth transfer in history and we are creating businesses at 1.5x the pace of men. We can shift the economy and society to a better place if we come together.
And it’s our time! Women are being called to step up, share our unique perspective and create a better world.
What is Radical Generosity Week and why is it important for women?
Radical Generosity Week is our call to action for women to come forward and contribute their capital ($1,100 contribution) to support upcoming female innovators who have businesses with export potential that create a better world.
500 women “Activators” contribute $1,100 each as an Act of Radical Generosity. That money is pooled together and loaned out at 0% interest to 5 female entrepreneurs that are selected in an innovative online voting process by the Activators. The selected ventures get access to the 500 women for their networks, their expertise and their buying power. Imagine being one of the ventures who has been struggling alone to get their business to grow and all of a sudden having 500 women on your team. It’s unbelievable. All of our ventures are growing and paying back their loans on time and are deeply emboldened by the experience. It’s a game-changer to be supported on your own terms.
Our goal is to reach 1M Activators, 10,000 women-led Ventures and a $1B perpetual fund to support women for generations to come.
How did you come up with this idea?
I have been trying to figure out how to address this issue for a long time. I used to look at it as a problem to solve and now I see it as a huge missed market opportunity. Women supporting women on behalf of a better world is a path to a new economy and a new society, which we desperately need. When I started SheEO two years ago, 85 people had the same wealth as 3.5 billion people. Last year, it was 62. This year it’s 5. Five men have the same wealth as half the planet. It’s insane. We need a whole new approach.
I essentially looked at all the things we view as deficits in our current market—women run businesses that are highly capital efficient, we get to profitability quickly and are very savvy with our risk taking. I see these as very positive attributes. In our current “winner takes all” mindset, these are all considered bad things.
We tell people that if you don’t go big, you should go home. How’s that going to scale? is considered a starter question. I’ve had it with that model. It’s led us to inequality, a culture that is highly unforgiving and one where women don’t feel like we fit.
I wondered, If we were starting again, how would we create an ecosystem of support that helps us reach out potential? And this model popped into my mind, after thousands of conversations, experiences, experiments in the past 25 years.
What is your hope for women going forward?
Oh, I am so hopeful about the future. My hope is that we are surrounded by radically generous women who support us on our own terms and because of that, we step into our dreams and go for it. I hope that we live in a world with a very broad definition of success so everyone, not matter their ambition feels like they are good enough.
I want us to feel like we have enough and can share with our neighbours versus hoarding everything in our acute self-interest. And finally, I hope that every one of us is emboldened in a very special environment of radical generosity to give the unique gifts we were put on this planet to share.
How can we get on board?
Vicki Saunders is an entrepreneur, award-winning mentor, advisor to the next generation of change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world. She is the Founder of SheEO and #radicalgenerosity, a global initiative to radically transform how we support finance and celebrate female entrepreneurs.