Photos via Annie Capital
Even though there are more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, female founders are still finding it more difficult to receive funding than their male counterparts. In fact, allraise.org reports that only 15% of venture capital funding is allocated to female founders. That’s where Annie Capital, an investment firm working mostly in the Dakotas, is stepping in to make sure women in our area are getting the help they need to make big things happen.
Kodee Furst, cofounder and managing partner, started Annie Capital in July of 2018 with founding partners Seth Murphy and Chantel Murphy to invest in the power of women in our region. They’ve accomplished this by partnering with women-owned businesses not only from a funding standpoint but from an education and community development standpoint as well.
Furst says that they educate female founders by providing coaching and an outside perspective that allows them to think about the biggest challenges facing their businesses. “Whether it’s connecting the entrepreneur to someone in our network that can provide technical assistance, helping prioritize opportunities or simply being a listening partner, our coaching model is based on the entrepreneur’s needs,” said Furst. The programming is designed to demystify the process of building a company and strengthen the hard skills needed for growth.
“When you think about venture capital or an investment company, you often talk about the size of your portfolio, but what we know to be true is that there’s a lot of impact to be made outside of cutting a check or deploying capital,” said Furst.
Part of their goal through education and funding is to help build companies that can be an example for women and to elevate the voices of female founders. “We often hear that it’s hard to be what you can’t see,” said Furst. This goal has taken Furst to a larger stage multiple times with the forward-thinking female founder helping to head the 2019 Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in Fargo. She also spoke in a Senate Roundtable discussion about the issues, challenges, and barriers that confront women entrepreneurs in America in 2019.
Both events highlighted a larger need for support as well as problems facing women that Furst says are present in nearly every state for female entrepreneurs.
In order to address the nationwide issues, Annie Capital is starting at home. Annie Capital focuses on funding women-owned businesses in our region where Furst believes there is a lot of activity and excitement about entrepreneurship.
“We’re committed to rural because we all have North Dakota roots and we feel that this should be a place where anyone and everyone can start a company,” said Furst. “We’re very lucky to live somewhere where people are willing to collaborate. We’re all working towards the same goal and that is to positively impact the communities that we serve.”