Olivia Owens is Helping Founders of Color Thrive

Posted on January 13, 2022

In an effort to encourage a healthy cross-fertilization of ideas and forward thinking in the wine biz and beyond, Woman-Owned Wineries continues our new interview series spotlighting powerful leadership outside of the beverage industry. Our latest piece features insight from Olivia Owens, Creator and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color, at the popular crowdfunding platform and business resource IFundWomen.


Together with Karen Cahn, Olivia operates IFundWomen as a “funding marketplace for women-owned businesses and the people who want to support them with access to capital, coaching, and connections,” offering specialized programming in support of women entrepreneurs of color. With a range of coaching services, workshops, and other tools, IFundWomen has built a network of thriving women business owners.


Funding is one of the greatest obstacles any winery owner faces. Since crowdfunding through the IFundwomen platform in 2018, we’ve been eager to share their meaningful work with our community of independent female vintners. Cheers to Olivia for her work on this challenging issue.




IFundWomen is built with a mission to close the funding gap for women entrepreneurs. That gap is even wider for women of color. In what specific ways does IFundWomen of Color tackle the problem?

Providing access to alternative sources of funding, like grants and crowdfunding, is the focus of IFundWomen of Color—so these entrepreneurs don’t have to go into debt to launch their businesses.


We firmly believe that crowdfunding should be the first stop on every founder’s funding journey to prove demand for their product or service before they invest in supply, but getting started can be intimidating. IFundWomen of Color provides a low-risk setting for diverse founders to get access to the capital, coaching, and connections needed to take that initial step to raise funds for your business. 

What is the number one struggle you see women entrepreneurs of color face? 

IFundWomen of Color launched in January 2020 to help address the deep funding disparity that exists specifically for women of color. We know that 79% of the entrepreneurs in the IFundWomen of Color community cite a lack of access to capital as the #1 barrier to starting up. This barrier has only gotten worse during the pandemic. 


From the research we conducted in partnership with our founding partner, Caress, we learned that 7 in 10 women of color entrepreneurs experienced decreased yearly revenue due to COVID-19, and less than 1 in 10 women relied on venture capital to raise money for their business in 2020—instead, the majority relied on grants (54%) and personal savings (49%).


But it’s about more than just the funding—34% of the women in our community cite a lack of access to coaches and mentors, and 60% cite a lack of access to connections. This is exactly why we’ve created a holistic approach to addressing the funding gap through capital, coaching, and connections. 

What key lesson(s) have you learned on your path as a leader?

Make the ask. So often I think we’re waiting for the invitation to be great. We are the protagonists of our own stories and no one can advocate for us the way we can advocate for ourselves. A “no” can often mean “not right now,” but as we always say at IFundWomen, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Who has inspired you most and why?

Growing up, I watched my mom navigate the entrepreneurship journey. Her perseverance and commitment to supporting her community despite hearing countless “no’s” has been the perfect blueprint for how I have shown up to support women of color just like her, who are launching and growing business to make an impact. 

What’s in your glass at the end of the day? 

If I’m headed to my neighborhood spot, I have a signature cocktail called a Jalisco Sour: Tequila, Grapefruit, Lime, Ginger, topped with Red Wine.


If I’m staying in, it’s always a glass of red–typically Cabernet Sauvignon.