Forming Circles, an organisation launched in Australia in 2011 to support small business, innovation, and charitable projects, has evolved into Forming Circles Global with the opening an angel investment fund that will see $500,000 put into women-led startups and small businesses over three years.
The Forming Circles Fund will provide two grants for small businesses annually, and will also support Australian social enterprises working in developing countries.
Renata Cooper, founder and CEO of Forming Circles Global, said the organisation exists to support women driving value-based innovation and to nurture an ecosystem and network of future investors.
“The spirit of women-led entrepreneurship and its role in shaping the future of our economy is getting stronger every day. The energy is here and slowly, through an increasing number of success stories, women are fuelling the next phase of growth – in Australia and onto global markets,” she said.
“Many creative ideas that influence growth and positively impact people’s lives get lost due to lack of and access to funding. FCG is making a conscious effort to empower women entrepreneurs with startups built on great ideas. In addition to financial support, we will give women valuable mentorship that helps their startups scale.”
Cooper, who is a mentor in the muru-d accelerator program, has personally invested $2 million in over 100 causes and businesses, including startups Workible, iVvy, Good360. She is also a member of Scale Investors, through which she has invested in the US-based startups CloudPeeps and DayOne Response.
As well as investment, Forming Circles Global will continue to build on its Founders Circle, a network of entrepreneurs who will actively support the startup ecosystem and play a role in its growth through mentorship.
Cooper called this network “one of the most fundamental pillars” of the organisation, comprised of “a group of individuals who challenge the status quo and push boundaries to introduce progressive change.”
The network already includes Kate Kendall of Cloudpeeps, Fiona Anson and Alli Baker of Workible, and Lauren Hall and James Grieg of iVvy.
There has perhaps never been a better time for women to dive into entrepreneurship, with Forming Circles Global the latest organisation emerging over the last few years to help businesswomen: Jo Burston last year launched Rare Birds, an entrepreneurial movement giving women access to mentorship to help them develop their businesses and become investor-ready, while the Australian arm of global organisation Springboard Enterprises is now running its third accelerator program for women-led startups.
Forming Circles Global will soon release a calendar of pitching events for interested startups.