Equivesto began operating amidst the chaos of the pandemic and quickly realized their mission; to break down funding barriers for disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
It is no secret that the venture capital (VC) industry is a boy’s club. During 2019 funding for female founders hit a record high (not a typo) of 2.8%. By comparison, male-led teams received 85% of what was available that same year.
This discrepancy raises the following question: If women own and operate over 40% of businesses, why do they receive less than 3% of available funding? The answer is complex but the lack of women employed by VC firms in decision-making positions is likely a major contributing factor. Many studies have concluded that investors tend to fund entrepreneurs that align with their own background; whether it be age, gender, or experience, the bias is there. With decision makers at VC firms being mostly male, there are clear issues of equal representation and gender parity in the distribution of VC funds.
As outlined in our recent profile of Communitech’s Fierce Founders, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the discrepancy even more transparent as industries with high levels of female employment – hospitality, retail, services – have been disproportionately affected. The pandemic forced layoffs for hundreds of thousands of women, many of which are still unable to return to work as of publication. In response, we’re experiencing a wave of new startups and small businesses; many of which are led by women who were forced to pivot their careers. But, when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, VCs still are not funding women.
Now, regardless of gender, it is generally difficult to obtain funding in the infant stages of growth. However those opportunities shrink further when it relates to female founders. Looking into 2021, many women-led companies are turning toward alternative forms of funding. Luckily, Workhaus member company Equivesto recognized this issue and provided a solution.
As a licensed Exempt Market Dealer, Equivesto allows companies to raise needed capital from everyday Canadians. Equivesto began operating amidst the chaos of the pandemic and quickly realized their mission; to break down funding barriers for disadvantaged entrepreneurs. In a recent Q&A with their Head of Marketing, Zulany Pacheco, we learned how Equivesto is providing services and guidance for new founders. “Our platform is inclusive of companies of all industries, and the companies listed on Equivesto are not measured by anything other than the positive impact they are looking to make in the world,” explained Pacheco.
When Cordelia’s Locket, a new women-led restaurant and hospitality business, approached Equivesto about funding their new venture the company was intrigued to say the least. “We resonated with their mission of elevating diverse women in the hospitality industry, and we knew users in our platform would get behind it,” said Zulany. Although the hospitality industry has been struggling throughout the pandemic, there is a future on the horizon and hybrid companies such as Cordelia’s Locket are on the forefront of that development.
Since their launch in September 2020, Equivesto has empowered many everyday Canadians to make investment decisions at their own leisure. As the world progresses and knowledge is shared freely, the need for an investment firm or advisor declines. Something many were reminded of this amidst the controversy of the ‘meme stock’ GME at the beginning of this year. With the volatility surrounding traditional stocks many investors turned toward alternate options with Equivesto taking note.
Rather than sit idly as massive banks and investment corporations continue to profit, companies like Equivesto are eliminating long-standing barriers to entry in the investment world by choosing to challenge traditional processes.
“Equivesto is all about equity for all – we want to help close the gaps. That’s why we’ve created a place where impactful businesses can access capital, and everyday Canadians can participate in opportunities that were previously closed off to them and had high barriers of entry,” said Zulany. “When users invest in the opportunities listed on Equivesto, they see a mission and not a race, gender, social class, or sexual orientation.”
Having that level of autonomy is something fairly new in the investment industry, and it’s hopefully something that we will be seeing a lot more of in the near future. This concept has proven fruitful for many of Equivesto’s listed investment opportunities including Cordelia’s Locket who exceeded their goal by 150%.
It is no coincidence that the theme for this past International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge. Although it may often seem like we don’t have a voice prominent enough to make change, we ultimately decide what world we create for future generations. Consistently choosing to challenge traditional norms will promote growth and opportunities for even the smallest minority over time.
Following our Q&A, Zulany left us with some choice advice for new female founders and women pivoting their careers:
- Make your ideas known.
”It’s now more possible than ever to market to the entire world (as opposed to marketing locally because you were bound by a physical location). The world is your oyster; you have more chances to reach people who believe in what you’re doing and who may want to support your growth.”
2. Tell your story and attract those that will support it.
“Don’t stick to tradition when it comes to funding. There are alternative avenues worth exploring.
Make your WHY be heard – tell the story behind your brand, find people who believe in your mission, and involve them in your journey by letting them fuel your growth.”
3. Get uncomfy.
“Venturing outside of your comfort zone is the fastest way to learn new things. Cliché but… just go for it!”
So, if you have an idea but feel like there’s a lack of support – do it! The world is waiting for you.