Today, the Vermont Women’s Fund announces the launch of This Way UP: there’s power in our numbers, a new initiative to identify and track women-owned businesses and women leaders throughout the state. While women business owners are a strong part of Vermont’s economy, there is no conclusive data to determine how many there are, in what sectors, and what gender-specific challenges they might face such as lack of access to funding.
“There’s no time to waste,” says Meg Smith, director of the Vermont Women’s Fund. “When the state received federal funding to help women-owned and BIPOC-owned businesses during the pandemic, there was no data source to turn to—it was a glaring gap that the Women’s Fund set out to fill.”
Smith sought funding and hired Louisa Schibli, co-founder of Milk Money VT, a statewide equity crowdfunding platform, and Marguerite Dibble, owner of GameTheory, a game-based educational and research company in Londonderry, to build a database of female founders. Together, they designed a website where women business owners sign in, take a 10-minute survey, and see the impact of their business on Vermont’s economy in real time.
“We did not do this alone,” says Schibli. “We spoke with over fifty organizations from technical assistance providers to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce to several departments within the state of Vermont—basically everyone we could think of that has a touchpoint to women entrepreneurs. We want to be sure the information we gather is useful to a wide audience.”
“We’re creating a digital database and capturing stories about a sector of our economy that has been overlooked in the past,” says Dibble. “The information will be collected securely, and users will be able to see the data constantly evolve as the survey is populated, which gives energy to the project and builds excitement.”
The data gleaned from the survey creates an interactive map and real-time infographics and provides users instant information on how their business contributes to Vermont’s overall economy. To learn more about This Way UP and to register a business, visit ThisWayUpVT.com.
The Vermont Women’s Fund is the first and largest philanthropic resource in the state founded specifically to advance women and girls in Vermont. Founded in 1994, it is a component fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and awards annual grants to nonprofits around the state that serve women and girls with programs that promote economic self-sufficiency, career development and systems change. Learn more at vermontwomensfund.org.
The Vermont Community Foundation inspires giving and brings people and resources together to make a difference in Vermont. A family of hundreds of funds and foundations, we provide the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise that make it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love. We envision Vermont at its best—where everyone has the opportunity to build a bright, secure future. Visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information. For information on our COVID-19 response, visit vtcovid19response.org.