Vermont Women’s Fund Launches Project to Count Women-Owned Businesses in Vermont

The Vermont Women’s Fund has launched a new initiative called “This Way Up” 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.

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