The group, which hosts monthly meetings in Madison for women entrepreneurs, was originally looking to get $400,000. But it’ll now be a $1.2 million fund to help entrepreneurs through grants, loans and equity investments.
“We thought for a first-time fund, that would be a great amount, and the feedback we kept getting was ‘go bigger, go bigger, go bigger,'” said Wentler, the group’s executive director. “Being able to access all these dollars and make it three times larger than our original goal is amazing. It shows the community is really behind women entrepreneurs and people of color entrepreneurs.”
The funds will begin flowing to entrepreneurs by the end of the year. Half of the money comes from the city of Madison, $200,000 from WEDC, $20,000 from A Fund for Women and $200,000 from WWBIC, which will help the fund in managing loans.
It aims to alleviate a longstanding problem for women and minority entrepreneurs: the lack of access to capital. It also would help those women who anticipate discrimination in fundraising and therefore don’t seek out entrepreneurship, UW-Madison economist Tessa Conroy said.
“It could be great for encouraging or incentivizing women to take the leap and pursue entrepreneurship,” she said.
And once they get that first round of funding, the companies will “move farther and faster,” Wentler said, putting money back into the pool of funds for future entrepreneurs.