Photo by: Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
Without doubt, access to finance is a common constraint to SME growth, especially in emerging markets. A recent study from ANDE’s Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) finds that while acceleration support and investments have shown efforts to close the "missing-middle" financing gap, women-led ventures are largely underrepresented in acceleration programs, and in turn are less likely to secure equity financing. Even after receiving acceleration support, women-led ventures on average raise nearly US $100,000 less in equity compared to their male counterparts and secure less than half as much in new debt.
To help address this gender gap, the Advancing Women's Empowerment Fund (AWEF) was launched with critical financial support from USAID and the Visa Foundation. The Fund will distribute up to $1.2 million in grant capital to test models for increasing investment into women-led SGBs over two years in South and Southeast Asia.
We are thrilled to announce that OTW Myanmar and the Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center's (Bopinc) joint proposal to develop a new acceleration booster to increase the number of investment-ready female-led Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) in Myanmar was amongst one of eight winning proposals selected by the AWEF.
Britt de Lange, Country Director of Bopinc Myanmar commented, “We are very excited to collaborate with One to Watch to support female-led SGBs in Myanmar. This joined effort will be useful for the entrepreneurs One to Watch works with in Myanmar, but will also be translated into tools that the Nepal team will test, and other accelerators can use after to become more gender-smart.” Both teams in Myanmar have been working closely together on an informal basis for almost 2 years and share the passion for supporting SBGs.
Leveraging Bopinc's expertise on women entrepreneurship and OTW’s new innovative acceleration model, the two organizations will work together to pilot and test the ‘Women Entrepreneurs Ignite’ (WE Ignite) acceleration booster through the regular Business Development Support program run by OTW. The booster will consist of four additional modules that existing accelerators can implement in addition to their current programs. These modules will be developed based on the learnings and results from four pilot projects intended to increase engagement, inclusion and needs-based support for women entrepreneurs.