Empowering a billion women is Ingrid Vanderveldt’s mission.

She created EBW to reach one billion women across the globe and help them start and scale ventures. EBW does that by developing women entrepreneurs through mentorship, education, and community.

“That is the WHY we exist,” Vanderveldt said during a recent interview for the Ideas to Invoices podcast.

But EBW makes money through its enterprise division which includes a medical distribution company and a data company, Vanderveldt said. In those ventures, EBW seeks to do business with women that come through its ranks, she said.

Vanderveldt is uniquely positioned to make connections. She served as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Dell and was the creator and manager of the Dell $100 million credit fund. She was also a member of the 2013 United Nation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council.

Prior to the pandemic, EBW Distributors was creating a one-stop shop for women to get business products and services, Vanderveldt said.

But that changed on March 20, 2020. That day Vanderveldt got a call from her younger brother who was an Emergency Room Doctor in Nashville. For six days he worked in the ER with COVID-19 patients, and he wore the same mask. There was a huge shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. He asked her to help solve the problem.

Vanderveldt tapped into her network.

“We had relationships across the globe,” Vanderveldt said.

By that Sunday, March 22, EBW had begun sourcing protective gear from around the world. So, the entire company pivoted during the pandemic to build the healthcare distribution business and it has taken off, Vanderveldt said.

EBW sourced masks, medical gowns, and other personal protective equipment from vendors in other countries, she said.

“It was one of those times that gave me the opportunity to look through a lot of things through the beginner’s lens,” Vanderveldt said.

“The supply chain across the globe as everyone now knows was so completely broken,” Vanderveldt. “We had to build it soup to nuts.”

EBW faced so many new operational challenges. To get through it all, Vanderveldt asked a lot of questions. But the fundamentals of doing business are the same no matter what the industry, Vanderveldt said. It’s a lesson she learned from Steve Felice, a former president of Dell.

Those are the lessons she also shares with women entrepreneurs she works with at EBW. The pandemic has disproportionately affected women in the workforce because they are generally the caretakers of the family. An estimated 5.4 million women have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

What the pandemic has done is it has unleashed this mama bear mentality and self-confidence is skyrocketing now, Vanderveldt said. Women are looking to create their own companies and jobs.

“What we are seeing in droves are women starting to step up to the plate in mass with a level of confidence I’ve never seen before,” Vanderveldt said.

It’s the birthing of the SHEconomy, which she defines as Social, Health and Economic impact for women.

It’s the transformation of our economy, Vanderveldt said.

“That to me is one of the most exciting things to ever experience in business,” she said. “Our global economy is going to look very, very different over these next few years”

Still, women face big obstacles to obtain venture capital financing. Only 2.8 percent of VC funding went to women-led startups in 2019 and that dropped to 2.3 percent last year.

Despite the lack of VC funding, women are figuring a way to get their ventures launched and funded, Vanderveldt said.

EBW’s healthcare distribution company grew without any outside capital, Vanderveldt said.

“We’re not waiting on anyone else to give us the OK,” she said. “I’m seeing that with more women.”

Women are figuring out how to finance their businesses on their own. Now investors are coming to EBW, but EBW isn’t looking for funding right now, Vanderveldt said. Investors are recognizing that it is a business imperative to prioritize women, she said.

There is going to be a shift there, Vanderveldt said.

“What the pandemic has taught all of us is that what worked before doesn’t work anymore,” Vanderveldt said. “This pandemic has rocked everyone to their core.”

EBW has a new accelerator to help women scale their ventures. Less than 12 percent of women ever get over the six-figure mark and EBW’s accelerator at EBW2020.com/grow is focused on getting them there, Vanderveldt said.

What matters is who women surround themselves with that gets them there, Vanderveldt said. There is a dealmaker mindset that women must tap into, she said.

“Dealmakers want to work with dealmakers,” Vanderveldt said. “People who are doing big things in the world want to work with other people who are doing big things.”

For more, listen to the entire podcast, pasted below, or wherever you get your podcasts – available on Google play store, Apple iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Libsyn, and more.