RALEIGH – An online crowdfunding platform that works with women entrepreneurs seeking to raise funds for their startups and small businesses is launching a new initiative focused on women-led ventures in the Triangle and the Triad.

The localized crowdfunding effort, iFundWomen Raleigh, is seeking applications through May 25 from its first group of women-led startups and small businesses. The initiative has won support from the City of Raleigh, startup space HQ Raleigh and Pendo, a Raleigh software company.

Liz Tracy, director of HQ Raleigh, said the focus on female entrepreneurs is “is really important for the Raleigh startup ecosystem” given the funding gap that women business owners face.

In addition to its focus on women-led businesses, New York-based iFundWomen strives to differentiate itself from other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter by distributing 20 percent of the profits it derives from its basic fees to the companies seeking funding on its website.

Karen Cahn, co-founder and CEO of iFundWomen, said that women receive “fewer and smaller” business loans than men and pay higher interest rates. Meanwhile, women-led technology companies attract an “egregiously low” share of total venture capital funding – between 2 percent and 6 percent, depending on the source.

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