Washington, DC, December 21, 2021 – The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) today announced eleven winning projects to receive funds through ANDE’s Gender Equality Action Labs. 

In 2021, each of ANDE’s eight regional chapters hosted a 9-12 month Gender Equality Action Lab, regularly convening small and growing business (SGB) sector specialists to collectively identify barriers to success, improve existing solutions, and ideate new solutions to gender equality challenges among entrepreneurs. ANDE’s Action Labs use a participatory design approach to convening around shared systems level challenges that individual organizations often struggle to diagnose and address effectively on their own, using a methodology developed in collaboration with ANDE member MIT-D Lab. Participants in the Action Labs also ideated project ideas to address gender challenges in their regions. With funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ANDE is providing one-year grants of USD $48,000-$100,000 to eleven Action Lab projects to implement these ideas. 

These Gender Equality Action Labs are part of the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative (AGEI), established in 2019 with the support of USAID and the Visa Foundation, 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. The initiative works to strengthen intermediaries that provide support to women-led small and growing businesses (SGBs) to fund more companies, build their capacity, connect them with appropriate sources of capital, and help them scale. The winning projects were peer-selected by each Action Lab’s participants during final pitch sessions held from September-November 2021, then approved by an expert panel for final funding consideration. 

The selected projects are: 

  • Pro Mujer will provide Latin American women access to quality entrepreneurial content that empowers them to thrive and become economically independent. The project will provide entrepreneurship training and support services to female entrepreneurs during all stages of their business journey by providing them access to their platform, leveraging both digital technology and existing physical Pro Mujer branches to create a community of female entrepreneurs in Latin America.
  • Fundes will reduce the gender gap in financial opportunities caused by unconscious biases in prospecting, selection, evaluation and approval processes. The project will design a protocol for financial entities or investment funds to ensure that their internal processes are equitable and inclusive, and later scale and promote the protocol to other entities. 
  • Fundação Tide Setubal and Impact Hub Manaus will make procurement among large corporations in Brazil more inclusive, using a gender and race lens. Their goal is to significantly increase the number of companies led by black women being hired as suppliers by large companies by identifying black women-led SMEs, preparing and connecting them to large corporations. The project will also raise awareness among large companies with high procurement power by sharing best practices in inclusive procurement.
  • Value for WomenINCAE, and SVX Mexico will help investors promote gender equality through funding women-led and gender forward-businesses. The project will connect investors with an active pipeline through an online platform.
  • M-Kyala Ventures will address systemic gender issues that drive the low levels of lending to women entrepreneurs, including restrictive credit terms, gender biases, and financial institutions’ lack of capacity to customize their products and processes to the needs of women entrepreneurs. The project will develop a gender smart lending toolkit to be implemented by financial institutions to enable increased lending to women entrepreneurs in East Africa.
  • Capital Solutions and MKAZIPRENEUR will break down systemic barriers to financing for women-led enterprisesThe project will provide an end-to-end solution to foster an ecosystem to support women-led businesses and drive the gender lens ecosystem in East Africa.
  • Ashesi University will help early- and medium-stage women entrepreneurs scale their businesses successfully. A design team will develop a robust gender lens focused digital platform to provide women entrepreneurs with tailored capacity building, entrepreneur training, technical advice, bespoke venture building support, and access to funding sources to scale their business. 
  • The African Management Institute will establish support programs for 60 SGBs, in which women can share their experiences and receive guidance on how to approach funders and structure sellable or bankable business plans. The project will match participants directly with potential funders after completion of a co-designed access to finance program.
  • Villgro Philippines and SanThit will build an access-to-finance platform for women entrepreneurs to connect to capital, content, and a community, to bridge the gender financing gap in Southeast Asia. The project, We Rise Asia, will create a safe space for women entrepreneurs to learn and share with peers and experts through community activities; deliver self-paced virtual learning curriculum on basics of finance and investment readiness; create a virtual resource hub including a loan product search tool to identify capital sources in the Philippines and Myanmar; and connect investors, banks and financial institutions with  women entrepreneurs.
  • Village CapitalGreen Artha InnovationsAureolis CapitalKrishi JananiWisen, Women in Investing and Caspian Debt will address the funding gap for female-led SGBs in India. The project will create an alliance of industry insiders and veterans to co-create, demonstrate, and promote models and processes that will improve funding outcomes. 
  • Villgro IndiaCaspian Debt and Kinara will research and analyze the barriers that prevent women-led SMEs access affordable debt funding opportunities in India, from the perspectives of both entrepreneurs and lenders. The project will help lenders develop debt products that are amenable, affordable, and accessible.

In addition, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) will provide additional support for WE Rise Asia, the winning proposal from the East and Southeast Asia region, by collaborating with local partners in the Philippines and Myanmar: Villgro, SanThitImpact Pioneers, Manila Angel Investor Network, and Myanmar Private Equity and Venture Capital Association

About ANDE

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that propel entrepreneurship in developing economies. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.

As the leading global voice of the SGB sector, ANDE believes that SGBs are a powerful, yet underleveraged tool in addressing social and environmental challenges. Since 2009, we have grown into a trusted network of nearly 300 collaborative members that operate in nearly every developing economy. ANDE grows the body of knowledge, mobilizes resources, and connects the institutions that support the small business entrepreneurs who build inclusive prosperity in the developing world.

ANDE is part of the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society.


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. USAID’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative catalyzes private-sector investment into early-stage enterprises, including women-owned businesses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.