Build Her Business crowdfunding campaign offers unique financing opportunities for women entrepreneurs

By Erika Stark 20 November 2019 4 min read

Aymie Rondeau had always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. She went to workshops to learn how to write business plans, and had a few business ideas floating through her head, but nothing really stuck. Rondeau’s foray into entrepreneurship, like that of many other entrepreneurs, eventually began after a deeply personal experience.

“Last summer, I went into a program through the Calgary Counselling Centre for disordered eating and started to explore body positivity and accepting my size,” said Rondeau. “I’d just started venturing into wearing plus-sized fashion for myself, and I was feeling a lot of shame around it.”

Part of the problem, said Rondeau, was a lack of access to stylish and fashionable plus-size clothing in Canada. She turned her shopping attention online and began to find a much wider variety of well-designed and high-quality clothing. That’s when the idea for the Curvy Shop (previously Curvy Collective) was born. Rondeau wanted to create an online store where she could curate a collection of the kind of plus-size clothing she’d been looking for.

Around the time that this idea was percolating, ATB announced its inaugural Build Her Business campaign, a unique crowdfunding campaign designed specifically for women as a means to start and grow their business ideas. In crowdfunding, “the crowd” contributes money to a campaign in exchange for a reward.

Rondeau signed up right away.

“I didn’t really know anything about crowdfunding,” she said. “I just soaked everything up. I read all the material, went to every webinar and off I went.”

Participants launched their campaigns February 1, 2019 and were supported and mentored throughout the process by webinars, role models, ATB experts and women entrepreneurs who have previously been successful raising funds through ATB’s crowdfunding platform, ATB BoostR.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Rondeau was announced as the winner of the competition. Her campaign raised more than $9,000—nearly doubling her initial goal of $5,000.

“It’s a great way to test the market, and test your idea without taking on a ton of risk,” Rondeau said of crowdfunding. “It’s a great way to see if you have a proof of concept.”

Build Her Business returns for a second year

We’re excited to be hosting the Build Her Business crowdfunding campaign for its second year. Once again, the campaign will be book-ended between two key dates: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (Nov. 19) and International Women’s Day (March 8), but it will look a bit different for its second iteration.

Rather than a competition, this year’s campaign is designed to be more like a peer cohort.

“We want women to feel like they are going through this experience together, learning and supporting one another,” said Shannon Pestun, ATB’s director, women’s entrepreneurship.

“ATB recognizes women entrepreneurs face unique challenges when it comes to accessing capital and connecting with the right networks,” Pestun said. “Through Build Her Business, we’re able to provide an avenue that helps address the three key barriers women entrepreneurs face: access to financial, social and entrepreneurial capital.”

Why crowdfunding?

Research shows that compared to men, women have a harder time securing conventional loans for their businesses. It also shows that crowdfunding is the only financing source where women outperform men. According to PwC Consulting, compared to men, women are 32 per cent more successful in reaching their target and tend to pull in a higher average pledge amount.

“By leveraging ATB’s crowdfunding, we’re looking at new ways to close the investment gap while also helping to overcome other barriers women face in entrepreneurship,” Pestun said. “Crowdfunding is a viable source of financing to help women start and grow their businesses, and we have the platforms and expertise to help them succeed.”

How to get involved

Build Her Business is open to women-owned and women-led small businesses in Alberta. If you have a business idea and the beginnings of a plan to get your idea to market, you’re on the right track towards being eligible for the campaign.

Registration for the competition is now open. All you have to do to get started is visit ATB BoostR and fill out the details of your business (or business idea). Participants will spend the next two months building and developing their campaigns, which will go live on Feb. 1. During the month of February, the campaigns will be open to the public to support.

'Be a sponge'

Rondeau has a few pieces of simple advice for would-be participants in this year’s campaign.

“Be a sponge,” she said. “All of the resources were great in terms of how to plan and execute your campaign. Soak them all up.”

This year, ATB is offering a special accelerator program for women in the Build Her Business campaign, as well as access to role models and resources around how to be successful with crowdfunding

Of course, one of the best resources of Build Her Business is the access to a community of like-minded women and entrepreneurs.

“I built friendships with people, we promoted each others’ businesses, and it was nice to have that support network of other people who understood what you were going through,” Rondeau said.

Learn more about Build Her Business at www.atb.com/buildherbusiness

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