Founded by Vicki Saunders (MA 1989), Coralus makes zero-interest loans to social entrepreneurs through a democratic process

September 30, 2022 by Forbes Anne Field

About seven years ago, serial social entrepreneur Vicki Saunders (MA 1989) observed the economy around her and perceived it to be broken—a system that benefitted a small number of investors while endangering the climate—and our very lives—and engendering severe inequality. She would help build a better way, and not by tinkering around the edges. “If we don’t do things differently, there won’t be any markets left anywhere to invest in,” she says.

So Saunders launched a Toronto-based platform she at first called SheEO aimed at what she calls “an alternative economy” for women and non-binary individuals to make no-interest, five-year loans to women-run social ventures. Group members vote on which enterprises to fund. “We’re helping to finance women entrepreneurs with businesses affecting change and tackling major global challenges,” says Saunders. About 45% of the more than 120 ventures it’s funded so far are Black, Indigenous and women of color-run companies, with a total of about $7 million in loans made from more than 7,000 individuals. Expectations are to fund about 60 companies this year.

Recently, amidst a rebranding, Saunders changed the name to Coralus to emphasize the collective nature of the model. And she’s stepping up efforts to introduce it to other communities.

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