Rebecca Minkoff and Alison Wyatt, cofounders of the Female Founder Collective, have launched The North, a new platform in partnership with Cisco that facilitates mentorship sessions with female thought leaders and experts in their field.
In addition, FFC and Cisco have started a joint business grant initiative for female entrepreneurs that will culminate with a virtual event and opportunity to receive a $20,000 grant from FFC Foundation. Both the virtual mentorship sessions and the grant event will be hosted on Webex by Cisco.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Cisco to provide valuable grants to female founders and business leaders,” said Minkoff. “With female founders securing only 2 percent of venture funds in the U.S. in 2021, the grant program will not only provide much needed funds to innovative female founded businesses, but also shine a light on the next generation of female business leaders.”
Wyatt added, “As caretakers and providers, women are often expected to give their time and work to help others without pay. The North allows these dynamic women to set their own pricing and scheduling, capitalizing on their vast experience while still providing an important service to our community of female entrepreneurs.”
The platform will launch the week of Sept. 19. Female founders can sign up for one-on-one virtual meeting sessions with female business executives and thought leaders for advice on such subjects like capital, scaling businesses, hiring, and leadership skills. Whether it’s advisers, investors, consultants, or short-term project help, The North seeks to help those in search of advice and an incremental income source for those with hard-won knowledge.
According to The North, business moguls such as Jesse Draper of Halogen Ventures, Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, Michelle Grant of Lively, Candace Nelson, Sprinkles founder and angel investor, Babba Rivera of Ceremonia, Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, Ann Miura-Ko, cofounding partner at floodgate, Arian Simon of Fearless Fund, “Queen of Clubhouse” Swan Sit, and celebrity stylist and serial entrepreneur Karla Welch, will donate their time to help advise and guide other business leaders.
Minkoff said, “When we sat down with the feedback we received from our community of founders, we wanted to make sure we created something that would be beneficial for everyone. Studies have shown that structured mentorship initiatives only have a 16 percent success rate and that effective mentorship involves deliberate planning and making an intentional match so that women are set up with someone who can guide them throughout their careers. This is what we’re aiming to create with The North and the grant program.”
Aruna Ravichandran, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Webex by Cisco, said, “Empowerment through female-led mentorship and support from powerful organizations like Female Founders collective is critical to advance women’s entrepreneurship and leadership. Cisco is honored to participate in these collaborative mentorship sessions and equip FFC with the Webex, technology and tools that will empower female-led businesses to reach their full potential.”
Beginning today, female founders can apply for the grant program and the opportunity to pitch their business live to Minkoff and Ravichandran, among others. The pitch event will take place in September in front of a live virtual audience of investors from influential venture firms across the U.S.
FFC members who seek to enter the pitch event can do so online at femalefounderscollective.com/grant through Aug. 31.
Those interested in being part of The North programming can visit findyournorth.co.
FFC is a platform for connections, education and pathways to funding for more than 14,000 women around the globe. The platform offers accelerator programs, to mini business schools, to getting one’s business off the ground, to daily programming to build skills, as well as grants.