Valrie Grant, the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, A. Cecile Watson, CEO of and Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business.

FundRiseHER™ To Target Caribbean Women Entrepreneurs

Valrie Grant, the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, A. Cecile Watson, CEO of and Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business.
Valrie Grant, the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, A. Cecile Watson, CEO of and Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business.

Women entrepreneurs across the Caribbean will now have a new way to raise much needed capital for their ventures. FundRiseHER™, the first ever Commonwealth-wide crowdfunding initiative was announced on 05 July alongside the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, which took place in Guyana from 4 – 6 July, 2016.

FundRiseHER™ is the flagship initiative of Valrie Grant, Founder of GeoTechVision and the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. It is created and powered by the crowdfunding platform for the Caribbean that was founded by A. Cecile Watson and which seeks to leverage crowdfunding to attract new flows of capital to the region, and ultimately to create new jobs and drive economic growth.  

FundRiseHER™ was announced by Valrie Grant, the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, A. Cecile Watson, CEO of, a crowdfunding platform and Arif Zaman, Executive Director, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency.

The announcement was made in the presence of Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business, Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications, High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana Pierre Giroux, Deputy British High Commissioner Georgetown Ron Rimmer, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and women entrepreneurs.  It has been warmly welcomed by Heads of Government from across CARICOM as an innovative, important and much needed initiative to improve access to finance for women entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses and contribute to the economic development of the Caribbean.

The game changing FundRiseHER™ initiative, led by the two Caribbean women entrepreneurs, has been developed with input from the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network.  FundRiseHER™, which has been launched to be a proof of concept for crowdfunding as a vehicle of economic development in the Commonwealth, is being piloted in the Caribbean with crowdfunding campaigns starting in early September.  The initiative will be spearheaded by Gr8Way Consulting Ltd. out of Jamaica,  which will lead the charge throughout the region to deliver on the initiative’s 1:10:50 goal: $1 million grant funding target to be raised through a global rewards-based crowdfunding campaign by 10 participating Caribbean countries/territories and Commonwealth member states for the benefit of 50 women entrepreneurs. The size of grants will be between USD$10,000 and USD$25,000.

Valrie Grant, Founder of GeoTechVision and Commonwealth Businesswomen Ambassador said: “As a Caribbean woman who has been named as the Commonwealth Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, I feel obliged to drive an initiative that will not only foster the growth of women entrepreneurs throughout the Commonwealth but one that will also elevate the impact of Caribbean based women entrepreneurs on the world stage. FundRiseHER™ will do this and we will all benefit.”

Cecile Watson, Founder and CEO, and the Caribbean Regional Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day said: “The potential impact of FundRiseHER™ goes way beyond our aspiration to offer grants to 50 women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. The outcome of this Caribbean lead initiative will inform its roll out throughout the Commonwealth.  That’s huge. So I am inviting the Caribbean community globally to rally behind FundRiseHER™, to engage with us, and to provide robust tangible support in talent, time and/or treasure, to help us collectively create successful campaigns throughout the region.”

Arif Zaman, Executive Director, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network said “this provides a major opportunity to join the dots between women’s economic empowerment, technology and innovative financing to support SMEs with high growth potential. It also translates calls from Commonwealth governments into practical action that women entrepreneurs are taking forward. FundRiseHER as a crowdfunding initiative will be extended to Asia, Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth by 2019 in sync with rising levels of intra-Commonwealth trade.”

The initiative also foresees engaging entrepreneurs to support entrepreneurs.  In the spirit of that type of collaboration, the FundRiseHER logo was conceptualised by Cecile, and designed through services contributed by iPrint Digital, a woman owned business in Kingston, Jamaica.

In 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government “called for innovative, inclusive and accessible financing mechanisms as well as capacity building to advance women’s entrepreneurship.’ In May 2016 in the Seychelles, Small States across the Commonwealth (home to 31 such states), specifically said that they ‘should also explore the potential of crowdfunding for accessing smaller scale financing for development’ and only in June in London, Commonwealth ICT Ministers committed to ‘continue to build capacity, paying particular attention to the emerging and over-the-horizon technologies and taking into account the needs of women.”

There is an urgent need to tap into new sources of finance and to find ways of delivering finance more effectively. The search for innovative finance is even more urgent given an ambitious Post-2015 development framework and a lacklustre global economy that has led to a dwindling of development finance. With support from governments and development organizations, crowdfunding has an exciting potential to support sustained and inclusive growth. It improves access to capital, helps better manage the supply and demand for capital, drives innovation and efficiency and funds new markets. It also offers an innovative mechanism which has significant potential to further operationalize the untapped potential of diaspora investment.

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