By bringing together hundreds of women ‘Activators’, each contributing funding as an ‘Act of Radical Generosity’, SheEO enables zero percent interest loans to five women-led ventures. Selected by the ‘Activators’ for their capacity for revenue generation, export potential and purpose driven business models, these businesses become a part of a perpetual fund which is again reinvested into a new business once repaid.

Since their local launch in 2018, SheEO Australia has grown their network of Activators to nearly 500 women and their perpetual loan fund to almost $600,000 – a fund that will stay in Australia and continue to fund women-led ventures.

In April 2020, SheEO announced their five newest ventures. For Australian Country Lead, Julie Trell, it has never been more important to support our women led start-ups.

“We have more than 250 million women entrepreneurs worldwide and yet our economic models are entrenched in a mindset that disproportionately favours men, contributing to income inequality with a destabilising fallout. SheEO challenges the status quo delivering a model that benefits all, rather than just a few, in order to create a better world”.

It is this mission for social change and freedom to thrive that drew Code Like a Girl founder and 2020 venture winner, Ally Watson, to SheEO.

Code Like a Girl provides women and girls with the skills and knowledge to flourish in the world of tech. “We’ve got a mission for social change, and whilst many of the programs we’ve participated in definitely set you up for commercialisation or fundraising, they don’t combine it with social impact – there’s a real combination of business savviness, freedom and a social focus which is rare and ultimately what it came down to for us” Ally said.

As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding and support from SheEO could not have come at a better time for Ally and her business. It has enabled them to pivot operations, deliver to a new market and resolve one of their biggest pre COVID-19 business challenges – scalability.

“A lot of our work was offline through school holiday camps and events, and our funding was tied to these deliverables. We’d built the cash-flow into the business but we were a very large operation tied to our in person offerings, leaving little margin to invest and scale” Ally explains. 

Image source: supplied. Code Like a Girl founder, Ally Watson.

“When COVID-19 hit it changed everything. We knew the last thing parents wanted was for their children to spend more time on screens and so there was no easy online alternative for us. At the same time we’d seen alarming reports highlighting the disproportional effects of COVID-19 on women and job losses because of the industries impacted by lockdowns”.

“There’s a massive divide between sustainable and non-sustainable jobs right now and we knew this was our moment to be of value. Through the funding we received from SheEO we’ve pivoted our target market, and built a new platform and a range of short courses to upskill women for sustainable IT jobs. This complements our internship program where we’ve successfully placed over 52 women into entry-level software engineering roles in the last two years within companies we’ve vetted”.

“We’ve been able to set something up that is now long lasting, scalable and has a margin that will continue to allow us to scale, firmly on our own feet”.

For women led start-ups considering applying for SheEO funding in 2021, Ally said it really is a win-win. “You’re surrounded by a brilliant and supportive group of people. It’s worth putting in the time, because what you get can genuinely be game-changing for your business”.

Ally’s tips for applying

  • Remember the Activators are everyday women who want to support a good cause
  • Be clear in articulating your visions as a founder (not just on selling your business model)
  • Respect the time they are putting into reading your application and watching your pitch video

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Things you should know

  • This article represents opinions and views of the interviewees personal experiences only.  It does not have regard to the situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as advice. It is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. Before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.