Vicki Saunders

Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO

SheEO has grown into a global phenomenon. Founded by Vicki Saunders, SheEO is funded by women around the world and is based on the concept of ‘radical generosity’. Activators in each country donate funds to support women-led enterprises, as an innovative solution to the problem that women founders receive less than 3% of venture capital funding. Under this model, sisters really are ‘doing it for themselves’.

Vicki has created an ecosystem that recognises women are leading industry disruption, and which provides support for new business models and methods, that are anchored in sustainability.

How is SheEO advancing gender equality globally?

Our goal is to transform the global economy by scaling up innovative women-led Ventures working on the World’s To Do List. Women whom we call Activators, contribute capital, expertise, networks and buying power to support these innovators who are pioneering new models, new mindsets and new solutions for a better world. Many of our Ventures address United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality as part of their business mission.

Australia was SheEO’s fourth region. What are your growth plans for SheEO in Australia, and what’s happening in 2020?

We are entering Year 2 for SheEO in Australia. We will be funding another 5 Ventures this year as selected by Australian Activators. We’ll be announcing the selected Ventures at the Summit on April 2nd in Brisbane. Activators from coast to coast are supporting the amazing companies that come from all sectors, all ages, and all stages of growth.

Tell us about your participation in the Women of the World (WOW) Festival, and what parts of the program you are looking forward to experiencing.

I’m very excited to attend my first WOW Festival. I’ll be joining in on sessions to meet inspiring women, share my learning with SheEO and showcase some of our SheEO Ventures and applicants. 

What are the top 3 things you think need to change for Female Founders to succeed?

  1. We need to fund women. Currently they receive less than 3% of venture capital globally.
  2. We need to support women on their own terms. Many women-led Ventures have unique approaches to running their businesses including operating carbon neutral (or negative), paying living wages and creating social and environmentally sustainable jobs. We need to focus on not only what these women are doing but how they are doing it. This is not the time for business as usual.
  3. We need to invite women into networks of radically generous women to support their growth in ways that build confidence and boldness.

Advice for future female leaders?

My advice for any future woman leader is to “find the others”. It’s so hard to lead by yourself. You need to find your people, the ones who lift you up in the tough times, who tell you the truth when you get off your path and who give you hug when you are struggling to keep it all together. 

Update: Unfortunately WOW Australia 2020 is unable to proceed as planned in April. See the Media Release.


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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.