Tired Of The Brush-Off, Caribbean Women Start $1 Million Loan Fund

By Jacqueline Charles
The Miami Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This September, two women will launch the first Commonwealth-wide crowdfunding campaign, “FundRiseHER”. Its goal? to raise $1 million to benefit 50 women entrepreneurs from at least 10 Caribbean countries, including Cuba and Haiti.

The Miami Herald

Valrie Grant had just landed one of her biggest government contracts when she walked into the Kingston, Jamaica, bank three years ago seeking a million-dollar loan so she could seal the deal.

Instead of a receptive welcome, however, the founder of a geographic information systems company received an all-too-familiar reception for women entrepreneurs in the region: the brush-off.

“The bankers looked at me and said, ‘Are you sure you aren’t suffering from overgrowth?'” said Grant, whose GeoTechVision Enterprises had won a bid to bring E-learning into Jamaica’s classrooms and is currently mapping Guyana’s shoreline. “I told them the only thing I was suffering from was the fact that I had a team of talented persons, and we just did not have the financing to execute the contract in hand.”

Grant would eventually get the financing the old-fashioned way, from family and friends. Last year, as she became the region’s most celebrated woman in business at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta — she was named Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year — she remembered her struggle and began thinking about how to use her new status to help Caribbean women raise much-needed capital.

“Being a woman entrepreneur is tough,” said Grant, who enlisted the help of friend and fellow entrepreneur Cecile Watson, the founder of pitchandchoose.com, a Caribbean-focused crowdfunding platform. “Sometimes you have to put in 300 percent, you have to work much harder … [But] it’s via entrepreneurship that we are going to get out of some of the problems that we have.”

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