Sephora backs women in business with new programme


Today, 85% of venture capital funded start-ups are led exclusively by men

In a bid to give female entrepreneurs a leg-up into the ever-competitive beauty industry, LVMH-owned beauty retailer Sephora has announced the launch of a new programme, Sephora Accelerate.

The programme is calling for applications to be submitted for a chance to secure one of up to ten places on the year-long programme, with the first cohort due to be announced in March.

The programme will be run under the Sephora Stands initiative, the company’s social impact proposition centred on philanthropy and aligned social engagement, with the aim to inspire confidence in women. Sephora’s goal is to support more than 50 female-led beauty businesses in the US by 2020. Today, 85% of venture capital funded start-ups are led exclusively by men, according to a study called the Diana Report Women Entrepreneurs in 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital.

Calvin McDonald, President and CEO of Sephora Americas, said: “Sephora is uniquely positioned to support and inspire women as they achieve their goals, and from the beginning, it's been among the top requests from both our clients and our employees. While past efforts have been effective on a local level, Sephora Stands is a holistic new strategy, spearheaded by our Head of Social Impact, Corrie Conrad, which allows us to better leverage the depth of our expertise and the incredible passion of our employees for a more focused result.”

Successful applicants to the Accelerate programme will be invited to take part in a ’bootcamp’ at Sephora’s headquarters in San Francisco, which will focus on how to build their businesses. They will also be offered mentorship from beauty industry leaders and will be eligible for potential funding through Sephora.

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Sephora also plans to hold in-store Classes for Confidence in April this year. The complimentary classes aim to help inspire confidence in women going through or facing major life transitions.