The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that more than 15% of all working-age women in the United States are entrepreneurs, and 40% of all U.S. businesses are women-owned. While the entrepreneurial gender gap has narrowed considerably in recent years — the 2021 Global Entrepreneur Monitor (GEM) indicates that among entrepreneurs there are nine women for every 10 men in the United States — obstacles continue to limit future growth potential. For example, studies consistently show disparities between men and women when it comes to securing business loans and consumer financing.
Recognizing that women comprise more than half of the world population yet receive slightly more than 2% of the capital, PNC has committed $1.257 million over the next three years to SheEO1 to address unequal access to credit, one of the drivers of the 257-year economic gender gap identified by the World Economic Forum in its 2020 Global Gender Gap Report.
What SheEO Does
SheEO is a global nonprofit organization that provides zero-interest loans to select women- and nonbinary-led ventures who are working on the World's To-Do List – the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Ventures are selected, funded and supported by Activators who identify as women or nonbinary. More than 50 PNC employees received “Activations" as part of the partnership with SheEO. Their financial contributions go into a perpetual loan fund for ventures that will have five years to repay their loans back to the fund.
“Our ecosystem-based model dramatically improves outcomes for women and non-binary entrepreneurs, with our Activators showing up as customers, advisors, and network connections who fund revenue-generating businesses that are working on the World's To-Do List," said SheEO founder Vicki Saunders.
Who are the Ventures?
SheEO Ventures are women- and non-binary-owned and led companies that are working to address the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. These companies are chosen because they create significant positive impact across all sectors: wellness, artificial intelligence, education, food sustainability, waste reduction, energy efficiency, biotech innovation and beyond. Ventures can be any type of entity — for-profit, not-for-profit or charity – that generates recurring revenue of $50,000 to $2 million annually and is able to pay back a loan over five years.
Who are the Activators?
SheEO Activators each contribute $1,100 annually or $92 monthly as an “act of Radical Generosity," with the opportunity to show their support for their favorite Ventures by activating — or investing — in those Ventures through SheEO's perpetual fund. Activators receive regular updates on the progress of SheEO Ventures and what support they need. This is a chance for Activators in the ecosystem to share their resources - knowledge, connections, buying power, word of mouth, capital etc. — to help Ventures succeed.
In the SheEO model, Activators contribute more than just their capital. They activate their networks, expertise, resources and buying power to help the Ventures grow and succeed. Activators also have the opportunity to participate in weekly Activator Connect Calls, Global Activator Calls, virtual events, a community Slack and Ask/Give channel, Trade events, Learning Tracks, regular podcasts and webinars and more.
Why It Matters
According the U.S. Census Bureau, women-owned businesses reported nearly $1.8 trillion in sales, shipments, receipts or revenue and employed over 10.1 million workers with an annual payroll of $388.1 billion in 2018. If the efforts of organizations like SheEO are successful in multiplying the number of women-owned businesses, it would generate more jobs, increase consumer spending and help close the financial gender gap.
“SheEO's mission directly aligns with one of the key drivers of our Project 257SM: Accelerating Women's Financial Equality initiative, providing equal access to credit to facilitate the start and growth of women-owned companies," said Beth Marcello, head of Women's Business Development for PNC. “Women started nearly 2,000 net new businesses every day last year, and 64 percent of these new women-owned businesses were started by women of color. When women-owned businesses thrive, we all thrive."