CaterpillHERs, a Pakistan-based social enterprise empowering women-led businesses in the country, recently won the ANDE’s Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund (AWEF). The fund will distribute up to $1.2 million in grant capital across eight winning proposals out of a pool of more than 180 total applications.
Led by Karachi-based entrepreneur, Hira Saeed, CaterpillHERs is a social enterprise that provides women-led businesses access to early-stage business curriculum and mentorship. It provides female founders all necessary resources to refine their idea, find their product/market-fit and prepare them for incubation and early-stage funding within Pakistan and beyond.
The enterprise also helps incubators by helping them improve their recruitment pipeline and achieve gender-parity in their cohorts by providing them vetted and market-ready ideas led by our women founders. With this fund, CaterpillHERs has partnered with Silicon Valley’s leading accelerator, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship to provide an online business curriculum, training, and mentorship to build the investment readiness of women-led enterprises across five cities in Pakistan.
The projects will begin in the coming months and last up to one year.
AWEF is the first activity to take place under the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative, first announced at the ANDE Annual Conference in September 2019 as a partnership under the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. The fund seeks to address the significant gap in access to finance for women-led small and growing businesses (SGBs), currently estimated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) at nearly $320 billion in developing countries. Research from ANDE’s Global Accelerator Learning Initiative(GALI) finds that women-led businesses are less likely to apply to acceleration programs, and those that do receive this growth-oriented support are still less likely than their male counterparts to secure equity financing.
An expert panel selected the eight winning proposals out of a pool of more than 180 total applications, based on their clear understanding of the problem AWEF seeks to address, their feasibility and intended impact, and the extent to which lessons learned from the project will inform the work of SGB service providers and investors going forward. The selected winners are:
- BoP Innovation Center and One to Watch, to develop a new acceleration booster to increase the number of investment-ready female-led SGBs in Myanmar;
- MIT D-Lab, to identify 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;
- Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and CaterpillHERS, to provide an online business curriculum, training, and mentorship to build the investment readiness of women-led enterprises across five cities in Pakistan;
- SHE Investments, to create a pipeline of investment-ready women-led enterprises in Cambodia and provide access to the resources and support they need to scale;
- Value for Women, to strengthen access to finance and business development services for women-led businesses and gender-inclusive social enterprises in Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam;
- Village Capital, to test the impact of revenue-based financing on fundraising outcomes for women-led SGBs in India;
- Villgro Philippines, to create 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; and
- Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE), to address the gap in seed and early-stage funding for women-led businesses in Vietnam by increasing market opportunities in the angel investing ecosystem.