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SheEO creates a network where women help women thrive in business

SheEO is a non-profit organization that brings together female investors with women entrepreneurs. In 2015, the founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders, used her frustration with inequality as fuel to create a way for women to invest in women.

A Toronto mom tells the story of how SheEO helped her bring her invention to market

SheEO is a non-profit organization that connects female investors with women entrepreneurs. (SheEO)

It's a worldwide network of women helping women in business, while trying to make the world a better place.

It's called SheEO , a non-profit organization that connects female investors with women entrepreneurs. 

In 2015, the founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders, used her frustration about inequality as fuel to create a way for women to invest in women. 

"There is just unbelievable bias in our systems and an unbelievable sort of cultural barriers and systemic barriers that block out women," Saunders told CBC's Our Toronto.

"Less than three per cent or four per cent of venture capital goes to women, and if you're a woman of colour, it's less."

In 2015, the founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders, used her frustration with inequality to fuel the creation of a platform for women to invest in women. (SheEO)

Investors — called activators — contribute $1,100 a year to the organization. The money goes into a pool to fund women entrepreneurs with a no-interest loan.

But the loan comes with one big condition: the business has to address the United Nations sustainable development goals, which include everything from fighting poverty and climate change, to gender equity and inclusivity. 

Joeyband is one of the businesses that has received funding from SheEO. It was invented by a Toronto mom after the birth of her first child. 

"Two weeks to the day she was born, my husband and I were at home, the baby's asleep on my chest... It was this beautiful moment," said Hayley Mullins, the inventor of Joeyband.

"And I took my hands off of her and she startled and hit the floor."

Hayley Mullins created the early version of the Joeyband, after an incident with her first child. (Hayley Mullins)

Determined to find a solution, Mullins created the early version of the Joeyband — a baby wrap made of breathable and stretchy fabric — and decided to take her idea to SheEO. 

"Being surrounded by that many brilliant women and having that validation ... does so much for you personally," said Mullins.

The Joeyband is a baby wrap made of breathable and stretchy fabric. (Joeyband)

SheEO has funded more than 60 women-led ventures around the world. The organization has 5,500 investors helping women in business, but hopes to have 1,000,000 by 2030. 

WATCH: The inventor of the Joeyband, Hayley Mullins, speaks to Our Toronto's Marivel Taruc about how SheEO has made her business dreams come true 

It’s a worldwide network of women helping women in business, while trying to make the world a better place. SheEO is a non-profit organization that brings together female investors with women entrepreneurs. 7:57

You can find this and other stories about the city on Our Toronto Saturdays and Sundays at 12 p.m., and Mondays at 11 a.m.
 

With files from Marivel Taruc