Women-owned businesses are on the increase in Tennessee, up by 38 percent in recent years. But, there remain female entrepreneurs unable to get their businesses off the ground and that fact is what is driving a new crowdsourcing effort for women-owned businesses in Nashville.
By the end of its first year, iFundWomen will have driven over one-million dollars for women-led businesses in places such as Music City, and chief revenue officer Concetta Rand says it's as much about promotion as it is capital.
"In cities such as Nashville, truly just by networking and connecting those businesses, opportunities resulted, so it's a great opportunity for exposure for those companies," she says.
iFundWomen is launching in other cities across the country in the coming year, including Raleigh-Durham. In Nashville, it's supporting a variety of businesses - including beauty products, paper products, designers and furniture-makers.
iFundWomen is the first crowdfunding platform for women-led businesses, startups and small businesses, founded by a former Google/YouTube executive, Karen Cahn.
Rand says women get less than six percent of all venture funding, and often the loans they receive are for smaller amounts and higher interest rates. Beyond that, she says, there's a shortage of human resources.
"Absolutely, closing the funding gap is imperative," she insists. "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.
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