The Tory Burch Foundation announced Tuesday the launch of its Funding Finder tool, an interactive guide that breaks down capital options and resources for women-owned businesses. It offers information on loans and grants and is accompanied by a quiz that provides specialized answers for founders regarding their capital needs and wants for expanding their businesses.
Laurie Fabiano, the president of the Tory Burch Foundation, said the foundation decided to launch the tool after realizing that women entrepreneurs are often unaware of their funding options or how to navigate the form of capital that might best suits their needs. After a founder takes the quiz, the Funding Finder algorithm points them to what could be their best bets: debt financing, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), banks, bootstrapping, family and friend rounds, or even crowdfunding.
The Tory Burch Foundation, which was launched in 2009 by fashion designer Tory Burch, has a long history of supporting women entrepreneurs. It’s best known for its fellowship program that provides education grants, networking opportunities and business advice to women entrepreneurs. It also has a long-running partnership with the Bank of America Capital Program to help provide affordable loans to women founders. The Funding Finder was the foundation’s next step toward helping such founders achieve and access financial equity.
“The idea was to come up with something that has no strings attached. Just basic information that could take people further,” Fabiano told TechCrunch, adding that she and the foundation worked with experts and founders to help build the Funding Finder. “We see ourselves here just as an educator and a navigator.”
The tool comes at a perilous time for many women founders: Last year, companies founded solely by women received just 1.9% of the approximate $238.8 billion in venture capital allocated to U.S. startups. Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse is expected to have ripple effects on the women and people of color who depended on the bank for accounting, networking and debt financing.
“It’s put more emphasis on the imbalance of how we put out capital in this country,” Fabiano said of the bank collapse. Regarding the landscape for women overall within the startup ecosystem, she said she hopes it will get better. “There’s more awareness at this moment and certainly more happening in the VC area in terms of more funds being created, but the disparity is so big that a hell of a lot more has got to happen before we’re going to really see any change.”
Malika Jacobs, the founder and CEO of the SaaS human resource tool Myriad, is currently looking for her first-round investment and used the Funding Finder during beta to help her. She was a 2021 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow and described the current funding landscape for women as “nascent but committed.”
“I like that it’s a guided form that offers supportive tips throughout for a breadth of funding options,” Jacobs said of the tool. It’s “another arrow in the quiver of knowledge, networks, and capital that Tory Burch has put the power of her name behind, providing avenues into traditionally gate-kept spaces for female founders.”
But Fabiano has bigger dreams for Funding Finder: “Not only do we help hundreds and thousands of women figure out capital and funding, but that we get enough data and information that we could use to help change this really biased system,” Fabiano said. “It’s our pie-in-the-sky hope for this.”