ANDE's Gender Equality Initiative
Advancing Women's Empowerment Fund (AWEF)

Part of ANDE’s Gender Equality Initiative. AWEF aims to identify the most impactful strategies to put investment capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

‘Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund’ Grant Facility

Round I (Asia): May 2020 – December 2021
Round II (Africa): June 2021 – August 2022

The Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund aims to identify the most impactful strategies to put investment capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. ANDE has sought proposals to pilot, test, and expand scalable solutions that tackle the financing gap amongst women-led SGBs aimed to identify the best strategies to get investment capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia and across Sub-Saharan Africa. These funds specifically looked to create learnings and insights for uptake by the broader SGB sector. 

While the emerging market small and growing business (SGB) sector has made considerable gains in advancing gender equality, achieving systemic and sustainable change is not feasible without mass prioritization of gender considerations by SGBs and the investors that support them. For investors, the process of leaping from why to how can pose roadblocks. Under this Capacity Building facility, these investors buy into the business, moral, and/or legal case for embedding gender into their portfolio, but they lack the technical know-how to build or incorporate gender into their investment thesis and processes. To apply to this facility, investors must have involved a third-party capacity development provider if the investor applicant does not provide such services (e.g. targeted mentoring; training based on women’s needs assessment, etc) in-house.

Round I Grantees - AWEF Asia

Thanks to the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Visa Foundation, in 2020 ANDE funded eight grantees working in East and Southeast Asia and India with twelve-month projects from a funding pool of USD $1.2 million.

SHE Investments

SHE Investments created a pipeline of investment-ready women-led enterprises in Cambodia and provide access to the resources and support they need to scale.

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and CaterpillHERS

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and CaterpillHERS provided an online business curriculum, training, and mentorship to build the investment readiness of women-led enterprises across five cities in Pakistan.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) D-Lab

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) D-Lab identified a new pipeline of female SGB founders to participate in a co-created accelerator program to tackle the investment gap from the bottom up in India.

Village Capital

Village Capital tested the impact of revenue-based financing on fundraising outcomes for women-led SGBs in India.

Value for Women

Value for Women strengthened access to finance and business development services for women-led businesses and gender-inclusive social enterprises in Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Villgro Philippines

Villgro Philippines created an accelerator program to provide high-potential women-led or -owned SGBs in the Philippines access to working capital, capacity building, mentorship, and investor matching.

Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE)

Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) addressed the gap in seed and early-stage funding for women-led businesses in Vietnam by increasing market opportunities in the angel investing ecosystem.

BoP Innovation Center and One to Watch

BoP Innovation Center (Bopinc) and One to Watch developed a new acceleration booster to increase the number of investment-ready female-led SGBs in Myanmar.

Round II Grantees - AWEF Africa

In 2021, ANDE announced a new round of AWEF funding, in partnership with USAID. ANDE selected three winning organizations out of more than 250 total applications. Each received up to $150,000 for a twelve-month project beginning in June 2021.

Aequalitas Capital Partners

Aequalitas is an Impact Investment and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) advisory firm with international development at its core. With this project, they are conducting a market survey, exploring innovative financing models, and offering the capacity building for women entrepreneurs to initiate financial flows for women-led companies in Nigeria.


Inkomoko (formerly The African Entrepreneur Collective) works with entrepreneurs to support their growth in order to create jobs and improve livelihoods throughout communities. Under AWEF II, they are offering practical business development services and providing direct access to low-cost loans and matching grants for 100 women-led SGBs in Rwanda and Kenya.

Property Point

Property Point is dedicated to unlocking opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operating in South Africa’s property sector and is using this grant to facilitate networking between SGBs and funders, providing targeted business development support, and consolidating lessons for the broader SGB sector to unlock greater growth and working capital for women entrepreneurs in the property and construction sector in South Africa.

This project is possible thanks to: