SheEO`s Community-based Funding Model: An Alternative Solution to Foster Women Entrepreneurship?

SheEO`s Community-based Funding Model: An Alternative Solution to Foster Women Entrepreneurship?
Case Code: LDEN175
Case Length: 19 Pages
Period: 2015-2021
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization : SheEO Canada Fund
Industry : Financial Services
Countries : Canada,United Kingdom,Australia,United States
Themes: Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital , Gender and Leadership, Women Entrepreneurs
SheEO`s Community-based Funding Model: An Alternative Solution to Foster Women Entrepreneurship?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case describes the alternative financing model to women entrepreneurs that Vicki Saunders (Saunders) sought to promote through SheEO, a Canadian venture she founded in 2015. The SheEO model was a ‘holistic feminist model’ that gave women-led ventures the flexibility to grow at their own pace and on their own terms. The case touches upon the need for this alternative investment model that would enable women leaders to come up with solutions to encourage investments in women-led start-ups given that all-women teams had never received more than 3% of the total capital raised by various ventures since 2010. Also, the investments made on women led start-ups were skewed across sectors since most venture capitalists preferred to invest in technology start-ups while most of the women-led businesses were in service industries.

The case describes in detail the key components of the SheEO business funding model that was aligned to the mindset of women entrepreneurs to leverage their talents, strengths, and passion to create sustainable businesses. The SheEO model was built around the principle of ‘radical generosity’ where the investors (activators) were like-minded women who offered funding with no expectation of any direct financial return. This approach helped create a perpetual funding model which combined the meaning of philanthropy with the impact of investment. The case also delves into the inclusive approach to venture selection where preference was given for businesses run by racial minorities, indigenous women, LGBTQ women, or women of color. The model encouraged women entrepreneurs in sectors like education, food sustainability, waste reduction, energy efficiency, inclusion, and biotech innovation where the business fulfilled at least one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Next, the case touches upon the personalized localized support system offered to women founders in the form of venture retreats and incubation programs put in place across each region and how selected ventures decided as a group to distribute the available capital rather than adopt the winner-takes-all approach of conventional venture competitions. Though the model carries the potential to help women entrepreneurs the world over to build their business while staying true to their values, the SheEO model has not yet been able to scale up to the levels needed to fulfill its lofty objectives.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the reasons for the prevalent bias towards women-led start-ups in conventional venture funding models.
  • Learn about the difference in mindsets among male and female entrepreneurs.
  • Examine the need for alternative funding models.
  • Become aware of the natural traits of women so as to create sustainable and socially beneficial businesses.
  • Explore ways to build equitable entrepreneurship ecosystems.



Woman leadership; UN SDG goals; Women entrepreneurs; Venture capital; Funding models; Gender Lens Investing; Sustainable business; Venture selection; Incubator; Gender parity; Start-up financing; Mentoring; Investor bias;

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