There was some very cool news out of Portland this week, and I wanted to be sure that all of you StartupBend readers saw it. A group of women entrepreneurs, investors and lenders debuted the XXcelerate Fund on Tuesday. The fund is designed to fill the capital gap that many women entrepreneurs face.

From the XXcelerate news release:

“There is a crisis in access to capital and entrepreneurial support for women in the state of Oregon and nationwide,” said Robin Klemm, PH.D., Board Member and Executive Director, XXcelerate Fund. “And this gap is happening at a time when we see continuing proof points of the effectiveness of women business leaders.”

The fund’s founders surveyed women entrepreneurs in Portland and discovered that they faced distinct challenges in obtaining capital, despite their entrepreneurial chops. The survey revealed that:

  • 40 percent of founders surveyed identify as underrepresented/people of color.
  • Most have been denied traditional funding sources.
  • Nearly all have been through an incubator, accelerator, or previous business training.

In addition, the Portland Business Journal noted:

Women start businesses at twice the rate as men, according to an Oppenheimer funds study. Yet a report by the U.S. Senate on barriers to entrepreneurship found that women receive just 5 percent of total dollars in conventional small business loans.

XXcelerate garnered the support of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who said via the news release that the state “cannot achieve its fullest potential to increase high-skill, high-wage jobs without extending equal opportunities to capital for women entrepreneurs.”

The Fund aims to support women founders who are striving for venture capital, bank loans or profitability and financial independence. XXcelerate is creating a $3 million to $5 million pool of capital to help founders reach these goals, according to the Portland Business Journal. Along with potential funding, XXcelerate startup founders will benefit from year-long curriculum that includes guidance on finance, marketing, growth, branding, capitalization and more.

The Fund’s founding board includes Klemm, as well as Judith M. Hutchison, the Fund’s lending director, and entrepreneurs Paige Hendrix Buckner, Genevieve LeMarchal, Astrid Scholz and Mara Zepeda. Jill Nelson, founder and CEO of Ruby Receptionists, is the fund’s Education and Mentorship Advisor.

Check out XXcelerate’s website to learn more about their leadership, solution as well as how to apply. And a big thanks to these inspiring leaders for creating more opportunity for women entrepreneurs in Oregon.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at or

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley