By Dalila-Johari Paul
Women make up 30 percent of small businesses and start-ups in the U.S., but only receive 5 percent of the total venture capital funding and institutional debt.
Those statistics don't sit well with Nancy Hayes and Brenda Bazan. The co-founders of a new crowdfunding platform, MoolaHoop, have committed to supporting women entrepreneurs in the early stages of building their businesses
"While the number of women–led start-ups is growing at twice the rate of overall business start-ups, these businesses start smaller and grow more slowly," Hayes told VITAMIN W.
MoolaHoop, launched in July, is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform. At this point, rewards-based is the only crowdfunding vehicle that can legally be offered to a broad online audience, other than “donation bases” such as for nonprofits, causes and “life experiences."
"We also selected rewards-based because it fills a need for debt and equity-free funding, to help someone get started and build their business idea," Hayes said.
This source of equity- and debt-free funding can be a critical success factor for many businesses. Last year was a huge year for crowd-funding with Kickstarter leading the pack. Yet, Moola Hoop differentiates itself with a focus on women starting and growing their businesses, as opposed to creative projects or causes.
"We want these businesses to continue to be successful after they raise funds via crowdfunding so will be partnering with organizations which provide support to women entrepreneurs (education, skills training, mentoring)," Hayes said. "We build an ecosystem of resources– the ‘Hoop.'"
In the last month, Hayes said MoolaHoop has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response and has connected with diverse business owners, from home-based companies and “mompreneurs” to professional services and tech startups.
"Women are natural and powerful networkers and the key to crowdfunding success is to leverage those professional and social networks, and those of their supporters," Hayes said. "In addition, painting an exciting vision and telling your personal story in a way that is compelling to the audience is also critical."
Watch how MoolaHoop works:
Image: Youtube Screenshot from MoolaHoop Video