Many of us have been taught the business world is a dog eat dog one, where survival of the fittest is the rule and beating the other guy the goal. So, it’s odd to come upon a savvy, experienced career woman whose new business model runs completely counter to that culture. Brenda Bazon of MoolaHoop has a different vision.
Brenda was an executive with IBM for years. During that time the first seeds of her future business, Moolahoop, were planted. She noticed that during the day women would compete for their company’s piece of the pie along with the men, but in the evening those same women had a strange camaraderie. They would often meet after hours to share strategies. She found herself part of a sorority whose members desired to help their corporate sisters succeed.
Maybe it’s because for years women were the underdogs of industry and so found strength in numbers, or maybe it’s just a part of their DNA. But whatever the case, Brenda realized that women do business differently than men.
After leaving IBM, Brenda worked with two non-profits.
The first was Pangea Network, an organization dedicated to helping find educational, social and financial solutions for impoverished women globally. The second is a micro-financing organization, Greemen Foundation, that sponsors business growth in some of the poorest countries of the world.
What Brenda learned when working for these organizations contributed to the slowly growing idea that would later become Moolahoop. She discovered that women were a better financial risk than men. They had a 99% repayment rate, much higher than men’s, and they were much more likely to contribute to the community they lived in. She also discovered, although she believed in these causes, she was a business woman at heart and wanted to return to the for-profit world.
A few years after leaving Grameen Foundation, Brenda had an experience that ultimately led to her decision to start a business dedicated to helping female entrepreneurs.
She had become a certified Yoga therapist and was a big believer in its emotional and physical benefits. She was looking for a Yoga studio for her son who was struggling due to some special needs and couldn’t find one. Being the enterprising person that she is, she decided to start her own.
Brenda’s Yoga classes focused on Special Needs kids. Her small studio became very successful in her community, but she had a dream to see the concept grow. A man who had connections with Special Needs groups made a proposal. He would put $65,000 dollars of sweat equity into expanding her business and all he wanted in return was 50%.
At first it seemed fair, until she read the fine print.
The proposal stated he would get 50% of everything associated with her name – forever. She was sure it must be an error. He must have meant 50% of the Yoga studio business, or 50% for a period of time. But, when she discussed it with him, he was adamant, that was deal, or it was no deal.
Of course, Brenda turned him down. Because of her experience at IBM, she understood marketing contracts. But, she began to wonder, how many women out there would have agreed because they didn’t have her corporate background?
She did some research and found there is a large capital gap between male and female small business owners.
Although she didn’t completely dismiss the difficulties women have breaking into the “good ole boy” network, she didn’t feel that was the primary reason for the inconsistency. Instead, Brenda drew on her past experiences and came to the conclusion that women do business differently than men, therefore it is more difficult for them to compete for funding in a system created by men.
Women think differently.
They are more social. They share more. They tend to be caretakers, supporters and helpers. And, since so many are also wives and mothers, they’re often better at multi-tasking. They understand a 24/7 schedule and know how to catch fifteen minutes of work time while waiting in the doctor’s office for Johnny’s checkup.
It dawned on Brenda that maybe women needed their own funding opportunities, designed to support their unique professional qualities. She and Nancy Hayes, an old friend from IBM who was currently a Dean at San Francisco University, decided to do something about it. And MoolaHoop was born.
To quote their website, “MoolaHoop is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform that introduces Supporters to women Entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow a business. MoolaHoop is designed to enable women-owned, -managed and -led businesses to easily engage their “crowd” of social and professional contacts.”
Brenda and Nancy just launched the business about a month ago and are excited to watch it’s growth.
How much could you accomplish if you could silence the voice of doubt in your head? If you have a business idea, don’t be afraid to jump in and take a risk. If your intentions are good, trust yourself and do it!
Note from the editor: IWM is sure that MoolaHoop is going to give rise to many Inspiring Women. It looks like such a great opportunity to bring dreams into reality. If you have a vision that has merit but lacks funding, we suggest you check them out. Then let us know about your success, so we can feature your small business.