Under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, ANDE, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs announces a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Visa Foundation to launch the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative to support women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
The initiative seeks to build supportive entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets that are responsive to the ways in which women have been subject to gender bias and institutional exclusion.
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It will work to strengthen intermediaries that provide support to women entrepreneurs to fund more companies, build their capacity, connect them with appropriate sources of capital and help them scale. Other priorities include advancing women as key decision makers—fund managers, board members, mentors and employees—in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
With plans to distribute over US $1 million in funding over two years to entrepreneurial support organizations in south and southeast Asia, the Fund will identify the best strategies to get investment capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
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Examples may include acceleration programs with all-female cohorts, alternative recruitment strategies, and more conversational and informal pairing processes to match investors with women-led businesses.
By the end of the initial funding period, the Fund hopes to have identified a set of interventions that can spread across emerging market practitioners, helping them better support the women entrepreneurs who enter their programs.
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GALI compared the performance of accepted and rejected firms and identified the accelerator programming features that correspond with increased firm performance in employment, revenue growth and access to finance.
A concerning finding of this research is that women-led firms do not achieve increased access to finance, and in fact lose ground to mixed-gender and all-male teams post acceleration. Beginning with South and Southeast Asia, the Fund aims to get to the root of this issue and solve it.
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Executive Director, ANDE, Randall Kempner said, “We have long known that women entrepreneurs in emerging markets face barriers to accessing the same resources as men in growing their businesses. Our research has shown that business acceleration practiced traditionally is not sufficient to overcome this entrenched gender inequity—so we’re hoping to catalyze new and improved approaches.”
Chair of the Board, Visa Foundation and Executive Vice President, Visa Inc., Bill Sheedy said, “Unlocking the full potential of women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem requires intentional structural changes, including women as central decision makers in policy, access to capital, and management of their businesses. We’re excited to bring Visa Foundation’s resources and Visa Inc.’s technical expertise to help tackle these challenges.”
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The initiative’s first activity, the Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund, seeks to address the gap in access to finance for women-led businesses. ANDE’s Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI), launched in 2015 with support from USAID, has been tracking the performance of more than 20,000 firms around the world that applied to 350+ accelerator programs.
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The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs will create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results, through programs such as Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE). USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.