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Pool Party Women's money and women's businesses coming together for the good of all women

By Cynthia E. Griffin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What if every woman in the United States donated $5 to a fundthat would help women start businesses? Can you imagine the impactthat would have?

Entrepreneurial activist Nell Merlino can. In fact, she'sgone beyond imagining that scenario to turning it into a reality.This consultant who worked with the Ms. Foundation to help developTake Our Daughters to Work Day has teamed up with media specialistIris Burnett to form an Internet-based microloan fund for aspiringwomen entrepreneurs.

What the two women did was tweak an idea that's been growingin America for more than 25 years: microlending. The twist: Insteadof seeking contributions solely from government and privatefoundations, as most microloan funds do, this one also solicitscontributions from individual women. By April 2001, the Count Me Infor Women's Economic Independence fund had collected $2million, including $100,000 from individual contributors whoseaverage donation was $15. We spoke to Merlino about the power ofwomen helping women.

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