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NC Women Take Business Funding into Their Own Hands

iFundWomen holds a crowdsourcing event in Nashville, where they launched earlier this year. (iFundwomen)
iFundWomen holds a crowdsourcing event in Nashville, where they launched earlier this year. (iFundwomen)
September 11, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There are more than 225,000 women-owned businesses in North Carolina, and at least that many female entrepreneurs working to navigate access to capital and resources. That fact is what is driving a new crowdsourcing effort for women-owned businesses coming to parts of North Carolina.

By the end of its first year, iFundWomen iFundWomen will have driven over one-million dollars for women-led businesses in other cities such as Nashville, and chief revenue officer Concetta Rand said they want to do the same in the Triangle.

"It's a great opportunity for exposure for those companies, to really extend the reach of their crowdfunding campaign to galvanize the local community behind not just a single crowdfunding campaign but the power of the female economy in that specific market,” Rand said.

iFundWomen is the first crowdfunding platform for women-led businesses, startups and small businesses, founded by a former Google/YouTube executive, Karen Cahn.

So far, iFundWomen Raleigh Durham has collected more than 100 applications from women entrepreneurs. The program officially will launch later this month. In addition to connecting them with access to capital, the organization also offers mentoring and coaching, two areas where Rand said women lack resources.

She said women get less than 6 percent of all venture funding, and often the loans they receive are for smaller amounts and at higher interest rates. Beyond that, she said, there's a shortage of human resources.

"Absolutely, closing the funding gap is imperative,” she said. "The two other gaps that we see for female entrepreneurs are coaches and mentors and role models and success stories. And so we are helping coach women through some of our services as well as creating the conditions for peer coaching."

According to the latest American Express State of Women report, women-owned businesses now comprise 38 percent of the business population. But while the number is on the increase, the share of employment and revenues remains largely unchanged.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC