> Founders Fund

Canada's First Online Business Accelerator for Women Entrepreneurs

The Founders Fund is Canada’s first online accelerator that emphasizes not only investing in your own success as a founder but also paying it forward.

They support women-identifying entrepreneurs during every stage of their growth. Started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, the Founders Fund believes they don’t need one company or one person to make a difference but they need thousands. With every membership, more than half of the fee contributes to a pool of non-repayable funding for members to apply for in the spring. The other half supports operational costs to bring programming like mentorship and workshops to life—for all members to access.

The Founders Funds began as a passion project led by Sheena Brady, the founder and CEO of Tease Tea Inc, and brought to life with help from fellow social entrepreneur Kim Kirton and investor Komal Minhas. Sheena founded Tease Tea in 2013 out of her condo in Toronto and grew it to where it is today; with a team, a headquarters in Ottawa, and shipments going out to more than 30 countries—but her journey wasn’t without its challenges, especially around finding the funding she needed to continue growing her business. Navigating barriers as a female entrepreneur is what sparked Sheena’s personal desire to be a part of supporting other women entrepreneurs along their journey.

Founders Fund members receive exclusive access to the pool of non-repayable funding, access to discounted services for their business with their partners, mentorship office hours with their established mentors, a library of digital resources, access to in-real-life events across Canada, an online community space for support as well as a needs assessment with their core team and bi-monthly check-ins for feedback.

The Founders Fund is created for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. As business owners, they know what it’s like to be in the trenches and empathize with their members to serve them better. The Founders Fund’s peer-mentor matching system with community members makes all members accountable and more likely to succeed.

They created The Founders Fund for women-identifying entrepreneurs, but understand that the challenges faced by founders within this community are not uniform—they are intersectional; shaped by factors like race, disability, sexual orientation, and other aspects of identity that intersect with gender. The Founders Fund promises to listen and learn, and to work to find ways to break down the unique barriers they face.

According to recent studies released by BDC, the amount of women leaders and business owners have quadrupled in the last 40 years, though today, only 16% of businesses are majority owned and led by women. While Canada has made great improvements; there is still plenty of work to do to improve gender balance and equality within the small business landscape.

Why is this work important? Studies show time and time again that businesses who prioritize gender balance and diversity amongst leadership and ownership are often more profitable, drive more revenue, and are of course, more innovative.

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