Caress Dreams to Reality Fund Applications Are Now Live and Seeking To Provide Diverse Founders With the Education and Resources Needed To Take Their Dreams to the Next Level
As the founding partner of IFundWomen of Color, Caress invested $1,000,000 over the past two years to fund, support, and elevate women of color entrepreneurs and small business owners, giving them access to the education, tools, resources, and funding they need to take their dreams to the next level. Women aren’t stopping on their paths to turning their dreams to reality, and Caress isn’t stopping their support either. This year, Caress has recommitted an additional $750,000 to IFundWomen of Color with the 2022 Dreams to Reality Fund.
Caress knows there is even more work to be done to support these diverse women entrepreneurs in 2022, knowing the funding gap for women of color founders and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and racial injustice on diverse small business owners. We’ve also seen millions of American women exit the workforce during the Great Resignation due to pandemic-induced constraints like lack of appropriate childcare and inflexible working conditions. The decline in female employment across the country, dubbed the She-cession, has encouraged many women, especially women of color, to take their entrepreneurial aspirations to the next level. However, according to research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color, a majority 76 percent of women of color small business owners say they need more fundraising guidance overall, and struggle to think of ways to raise and leverage capital for their businesses.
As part of their renewed commitment, the 2022 Caress Dreams to Reality Fund will bring 60 founders through crowdfunding accelerator programs culminating in a $5,000 grant for each business, opportunities to pitch, plus the coaching and creative services needed to execute successful fundraising campaigns. Applications for the first cohort, which will support 30 diverse founders, are open now through March 4, 2022.
Additionally, as presenting sponsor, Caress will fund honorees of IFundWomen of Color’s annual Women’s History Month Pitch Competition, where the grand prize winner and first runner up will receive $20,000 and $10,000 business grants, respectively, along with annual coaching memberships. Two additional runner ups will also receive annual coaching memberships to provide them with education and access to resources from the IFundWomen of Color platform to expand their business acumen.
Research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color also shows that self-care is seen as the key to maintaining the strong mind and body needed to run a business, with 95 percent of those surveyed agreeing that they feel more empowered when they take time to care for themselves, and one-in-three entrepreneurs say they find creativity in the shower. “Caress believes that sensorial experiences spark creativity. This is what inspires our belief that no good idea should ever go down the drain. We’re proud of our ongoing support and funding of women of color entrepreneurs, and together with IFundWomen of Color, we’re committed to fighting systems of inequity to ensure these diverse entrepreneurs have a strong foundation to turn their dreams to reality, and are set up for long-term success,” said Karen Laker, Marketing Director of Elida Beauty.
Women, especially women of color are more likely to launch new ventures and pursue their passion projects. Of the 1,800 new businesses started by women in this country every single day, 89% are founded by a woman of color. Unfortunately, less than 1% of women of color receive venture funding for new ventures, and over 70% of female founders cite lack of access to capital as the number one barrier to starting a business.
“It’s no secret that these past couple of years have been challenging, especially for diverse female founders. Many women have exited the traditional workforce, and the She-cession – exacerbated by the strains of the pandemic – has encouraged women, especially women of color, to pivot and embark on their own entrepreneurial journey. Since launching IFundWomen of Color in January 2020, our founding partner Caress has supported women of color small business owners to pursue their dreams with confidence by providing the necessary capital to pay off business debt, develop new products, market to new customers, and more,” said Olivia Owens, Creator and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color, the leading platform for diverse entrepreneurs to raise capital.
For more information on the Caress and IFundWomen of Color partnership, and to apply for the Caress Dream to Reality Fund, please visit ifundwomen.com/woc.