Radical generosity, the model on which SheEO is built, pools money from 500 women (called Activators) and loans it at zero percent interest to women-led Ventures. To qualify, Ventures must be at least 51 per cent women-owned, led by women, revenue generating, and be creating a better world through their business model, their product or service.
Dagmara Fijalkowski, in addition to being Head of Global Fixed Income and Currencies at RBC Global Asset Management, has participated in three SheEO funding rounds as an Activator. She shares why she decided to become an Activator and the intrinsic rewards she receives from supporting women in business.
Q: What motivated you to become an Activator?
Dagmara: I was astonished at how original, yet simple the concept is. I have been interested in microfinancing for a long time. SheEO really resonates with me as I’m very interested in female-led businesses and their founders.
The idea of supporting startups with both funds and advice was very appealing to me.
I also saw the SheEO voting process as an opportunity to discuss entrepreneurship with my young daughter.
Each year, my daughter and I review the Ventures together and choose which ones will get our vote. It’s a great bonding experience, and I get to teach her a little bit about business.
Q: Does your work inform being an Activator?
Dagmara: Evaluating investments is my job. I think in terms of risks, rewards and probabilities, so I bring the same mindset when voting at SheEO.
I am looking for Ventures that have made an impact on local communities and can be successful in a global market. I am also looking for Ventures with “skin in the game,” which means they have personal funds invested and a full-time commitment.
Q: How does SheEO inspire women-led Ventures?
Dagmara: It’s encouraging for new Ventures applying to SheEO to see the success previous Ventures have found since being selected for funding. I’d like to see all of the Ventures succeed and invest in the next generation of applicants.
There is a SheEO Summit in the spring where the finalists are revealed, and it is a terrific way to get to know this year’s finalists and hear updates from the previous winners. I attended the SheEO Summit this year and I highly recommend it. It’s a great opportunity to meet entrepreneurs. You can see how committed they are to these businesses. Almost every venture comes with a strong, personal story.
Q: Would you recommend being an Activator?
Dagmara: Absolutely! SheEO offers great insights into the challenges of startup businesses. Also, it’s an impactful way to support other women. It shows how easily we can do something to help one another. Vicki Saunders, CEO of SheEO, is a great visionary who has figured out how to bring together thousands of women to represent one powerful force.
Q: How has being an Activator affected you?
Dagmara: It has been transformative. When I was first asked to donate in 2016, I treated the experience as a test with no commitments for the future. But I soon realized that in addition to supporting other women, I’ve had a platform to discuss entrepreneurship with my daughter.
I’ve also made nourishing connections with likeminded women. It’s a not-so-secret “secret” community for women and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it!
Learn more about becoming a SheEO Venture or Activator
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