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Google Backs Durham Program Connecting Women-Led Start-ups With Capital

The Soar logo

A new program in Durham is seeking to help female entrepreneurs close the gender gap in securing startup money.

Google is putting up $15,000 to fund the new organization called Soar, which will help women-led start-ups connect with venture capitalists and similar businesses that have gotten funding.

The non-profit Kauffman Foundation says only 5 percent of all venture capital goes to fund women-led start-ups, even though companies with female leaders are found to be more efficient and bring in bigger returns.

Soar co-founder Lauren Whitehurst says the majority of venture capitalists are men. She says many women don't have natural access to their networks, and have different kinds of ideas and ways of communicating them.

“Soar is basically formed with the idea of helping women whose ideas are really good and worthy find funding that they need, and sort of trying to start to close that gap a little bit.”

Whitehurst adds that women tend to start retail and service businesses, and those industries grow more slowly than other start-ups.

“VCs are looking for really quick payback, to the extent they can have it. There are not that many VCs out there that have patience.”

Soar is accepting applications from businesses with strong female leadership. Quarterly workshops will offer guidance, and some businesses will receive one-on-one mentoring as they seek capital.

Soar’s first meeting is scheduled for May first. Registration information can be found here.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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