Deb Nelson has a job at RSF Social Finance that is all about helping people align their values with their money, all while helping fund entrepreneurs for social impact businesses. As vice president of client and company engagement, Deb also works on strategic partnerships and client engagement. On top of that, she’s also the lead on a new initiative for the company – the Women’s Capital Collaborative.
Pioneered with an impact investor who wanted to do more to support women entrepreneurs, the Collaborative aims to do more to support women entrepreneurs – a group routinely overlooked and underfunded. In fact, Deb points out, women entrepreneurs received only 3% of venture capital funding from 2011 to 2013. Why is this? Unconscious bias, says the Harvard Business Review. Even when a presentation is given identical word-for-word by men and women, males are 60% more likely to get funded. This Collaborative is in place to do something about that.
“Our goal is to create an economy of generosity and connectedness,” Deb says.
And she’s at the right organization to make that kind of impact. Since 1984, RSF Social Finance has provided social impact loans, grants and investments. It focuses on creating direct, personal and transparent financial relationships for those who fund social enterprises, as well as those who leverage the funding to create long-term social and ecological benefits via organizations in food and agriculture, education and the arts, ecological stewardship and other related fields. It also provides “holistic integrated capital” – from financial capital, loans, loan guarantees and investments, to technical assistance grants, and human and social capital. “We know it takes all kinds of capital to help an entrepreneur thrive and grow their organizations,” she says.
In episode 38 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Host Polina Selyutin asks Deb about the story of her career path, the international travel that gave her the confidence to take on future challenges and the importance of intentionally creating “outsider experiences” for yourself.
As a book lover since childhood, Cherilyn Parsons longed to be a part of the literary community. So, she risked her security, job stability and comfort for her dream of starting a world-class book festival in Berkeley, California.
Although there had been a book festival in her home region, the San Francisco Bay Area, more than a decade prior, there wasn’t one when Cherilyn decided to take a chance and begin her efforts. And even though she had no prior experience in event planning or the literary world, she did have one very important skill on her resume – fundraising.
“I had no experience in event planning,” she says. “I did not know the literary world. I had no money to start with. But I thought, hey, let’s do the book festival.”
And so, with a background in nonprofit fundraising, most recently at the Center for Investigative Reporting – Cherilyn thought she could apply her experience to help launch a large-scale book fest. And although it wasn’t easy, she made it happen. Now in its third year, the 2-day Bay Area Book Festival draws more than 50,000 attendees and 300 authors for events and panels spanning 9 city blocks in Berkeley.
In episode 43 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Host Polina Selyutin discusses with Cheryl how she took her idea to launch, the ups and downs along her path and the personal sacrifices she made to make her dream come true. Read (and listen) on to learn why book festivals are such powerful forums for connecting authors and book lovers, as well as what it takes to create, fund and manage large-scale public events.