A new female-led funding model has opened applications for women-led businesses to pitch for interest-free loans and support from other successful businesswomen.

SheEO, which is being launched in New Zealand by former Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung, already has more than 50 backers who will put up $1000 each to provide the loans.

Now it is searching for five female-led ventures to lend the money to.


Gattung said those who applied needed to have a business, not just an idea; at least $50,000 in revenue and the ability to be profitable in the future.

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She said it didn't matter which industry or sector the business operated in.

"We are looking for things that can scale up and go into exporting."

The SheEO funding model was launched two years ago in North America and is now spreading to other countries.

New Zealand is the first country to launch the model outside of North America but Gattung expected six countries to be involved by next year. The Netherlands and Australia are lining up next.

The model was needed because of the difficulty women have in getting venture capital, she said.

"The research is clear. It is much more difficult for women to get venture financing."

Most of those who ran venture capital funds were men and they were more comfortable with what they knew, she said.

The aim in New Zealand is to get 500 women on board who will invest $1000 each. The money will then be split between five ventures who will decide between them how much each will get.

Gattung said the five ventures would be finalised by April next year based on voting by the 500 investors.

The money has to be paid back within five years. But Gattung said the initial $1000 was more of an of "act of radical generosity" than an investment and would be recycled into investing in more ventures.

However she expected the first ventures to need follow-up funding as they grew, which could lead to investment returns for those who put up their money.

As well as the loan the ventures will be able to tap into the support network of the 500 female backers.

Gattung said it had already received more than 70 expressions of interest from those wanting to apply before it had opened up.

Applications close on November 24 at SheEOWorld.