April 4, 2023
Highlights from ANDE’s International Women’s Month Campaign
IWM Campaign Introduction
International Women's Month Campaign

In honor of International Women’s Month 2023, ANDE led a social media campaign on LinkedIn and Twitter to highlight work from our Research Team, Partners, and Regional Chapters focused on Gender Equality. Read the highlights below!


Welcome to a world where women entrepreneurs are thriving, creating businesses, and driving innovation. In the past month, we have had the opportunity to learn from initiatives all around the world that are tackling the issues of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. 

As we reflect on the past month, we have had the privilege of being immersed in 31 days of global impact. From Fundes’ development of a toolkit to build more conscious investment processes under ANDE’s Gender Equality Initiative to collaborative research that dives into the nexus of climate and gender-lens investing in Sub-Saharan Africa, we have learned that locally led initiatives tend to produce globally relevant learnings. 

In light of this, we are taking some valuable insights forward with us.

While there has been notable progress made, we must acknowledge that there are still pain points and challenges that persist. 

ANDE’s recent knowledge brief titled What We Learned About Women-led Ventures and Acceleration: Examining Evidence from Four New Studies dives into the realities of the current ecosystem. 

On one hand, the number of women participating in entrepreneurship has been on the rise, even in male-dominated sectors, and accelerators and incubators show pro-women bias in marketing and selecting participants for their programs. 

However, the concerted efforts to support women entrepreneurs do not lead to closing the financing gap. 

Lasting, meaningful change will require a multi-pronged, long-term approach that addresses the structure of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Pain points remain at every step in the acceleration and investment process, specifically when it comes to supporting women in their ability and willingness to shift the structures of these systems.

Women entrepreneurs are seeking more opportunities to learn from and with one another. To counter the aforementioned confidence gap, Ugandan-based Capital Solutions launched their 360 Women Entrepreneurship Network in East Africa. 

This initiative aims to build connections among 80 women entrepreneurs through an accelerator and mentorship program to support the entrepreneurs to build strong business systems, access markets, and finance. 

On the other side of the world, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has also developed Women’s Business Resource Centers (WBRC) in Latin America and East and Southeast Asia. The WBRC centers serve women entrepreneurs with a holistic range of services, including entrepreneurship training, access to local service providers like credit and social services, mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and safe childcare with qualified professionals. 

These multipurpose centers and resources are a powerful tool in convening women who are keen to learn, connect, and grow together – in turn, fostering an entire community of women well positioned to make an impact.

It’s important to note that unintentionally leaving women out of solutions is intentionally marginalizing them. As noted by ANDE Southern Africa, many entrepreneurial ecosystems often overlook the unique needs of women-led ventures. These gaps were noted in their working sessions in both stakeholders’ curriculum design, opportunities, programming, or access to funding. 

Supporting this message, grounded in evidence from ANDE’s Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund (AWEF) Brief, it is clear that a level of intentionality is needed to help match suitably pre-screened women-led enterprises with investors. Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs) can facilitate deal flow by acting as matching agents for women-led businesses. 

Investors frequently state that they do not have an adequate pipeline of women-led businesses in which to invest. ESOs can help boost an investor’s confidence in a business by conducting initial due diligence in their referrals and only recommending appropriately screened businesses for investment.

There is a strong correlation between women’s economic empowerment and the other sixteen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Whether businesses are supporting women as entrepreneurs, employees, or consumers, the posts of the past month show the far-reaching effects women’s economic growth can have on a community. 

Sirohi, an Upaya Social Ventures investment, has employed more than 500 women artisans, 90% of which are from Muslim Orthodox communities who were previously discouraged from working. In tandem with their ability to now earn livelihoods for themselves and their families, there has been a profound impact on their communities with a reduction in child marriages and an overall reduction in crime rate. 

As we take these insights forward, it’s clear that supporting women in entrepreneurship is a multi-faceted, long-term effort that requires intentional and systematic change. 

We acknowledge the important role that the Small and Growing Business sector plays in achieving gender equality and significant progress on the SDGs. Let’s keep the momentum going and work towards a more equitable and prosperous world for all.