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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