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Money News Briefs

TheWMarketplace Raises $500K to Grow Platform Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

Seattle-based TheWMarketplace is an online sales platform promoting women-owned businesses and women-friendly business practices. Recently the platform received $500,000 of funding from Synergy Technologies. Synergy is a woman- and minority-owned IT services firm based in Florida with offices in the U.S. and India.

Big aspirations

Co-founders Kate Isler and Susan Gates launched TheWMarketplace in May. The site was created in response to the economic devastation women have disproportionately faced during the pandemic.

“We plan to take Amazon on,” said Isler, CEO, in September. “There is a hunger for alternatives.”

Since its launch the site has logged 60,000 visitors. Today, the platform features 310 vendors and professional service providers selling more than 2,000 products and services. The startup is partnering with the Small Business Administration’s affiliated offices that support women. It is also teaming up with multiple women’s networking organizations to help their participants create online presences.

Unexpected hurdle

TheWMarketplace hit a snag in December when Facebook rejected its ads promoting Askanya Chocolates and its female Haitian founder.

Facebook’s algorithm incorrectly rejected the ad because it mentioned sensitive social issues that violated the platforms terms of use. Facebook reviewed the ads after being contacted by GeekWire and discovered they were incorrectly flagged. The ads were then approved for posting. But in January, Facebook rejected the platforms ad’s celebrating Vice President Kamala Harris.

For the founders, it feels like a gender-specific attack.

“It is an ongoing issue for us having to delete words like ‘personal care.’ I know it sounds crazy, but the fact that we are all women promoting women’s businesses and experience push back … from the large tech companies owned or controlled by men is disheartening,” Isler said. “I want to keep bringing it up because like most women-owned business, we just keep revising and resubmitting [our ads] until we find something acceptable. Just doesn’t seem reasonable and takes a ton of time.”

About TheWMarketplace founders

Isler was previously CEO of Daysaver, a calendar software startup, and worked at Microsoft for more than a decade, promoting Windows in markets worldwide. She is active in groups promoting women and girls’ empowerment, co-founding Be Bold Now and as a board director for Girl Rising.

Gates, who is chief marketing officer, has a background in international commerce. She previously worked as a national account executive for the Specialty Coffee Association

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