Request for Applications - Women Enterprise Impact Investment Fund: Partnering to Unlock Investment Capital for Women Enterprises

Portrait of a mid adult, female interior designer or architect looking into the camera whilst her team work away in the background. Kyoto, Japan. May 2016

Deadline to submit applications: 4 October 2019, 23:59 ICT

Application Calendar

  • Publication date: 06/09/2019
  • Deadline to submit the request for clarification: 27/09/2019
  • Final deadline for applications: 04/10/2019 23:59 ICT

For any questions regarding the application process, please send inquiries to: [email protected]

Applications should be returned to ESCAP by email to [email protected] no later than midnight on 04/10/2019.

As part of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s “Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship” project, ESCAP has launched a Request for Applications.

Funding Goal

ESCAP seeks to partner and provide grant funding for 1) the establishment of a women enterprise impact investment fund; or 2) to expand an existing impact investment fund to specifically focus on women enterprises in the Asia-Pacific Region.

ESCAP’s call for applications asks applicants to take a gender lens investing approach, meaning investing with the specific intent to create a positive impact on women. The impact investment fund should specifically focus on supporting women enterprises. This can be in the form of investing in enterprises which are majority owned by women (51%), managed by a woman, majority of the board members are women, and/or supporting enterprises which support, empower and develop the capacities of women.

Applicant Benefits

Successful applications will receive:

  • Up to US$ 1.3 million in grant funding
  • Technical assistance
  • Support for applicants requiring regulatory approval

Selected applicants will receive up to US$ 1.3 million in grant funding to support the Impact Investment Fund’s operational development/expansion costs, legal fees, identification/building an investor network, market research, identification of investable women enterprises, portfolio management, capacity building and monitoring of impact.

ESCAP will work closely with the grantee to ensure strong project delivery and results. This will include where required, expertise and technical assistance, and coordination and support for regulatory approvals that may be required.

Applications are open to all organizations which hold a not-for-profit status. A proof of the organization’s not-for-profit status will be required as part of the application process. While for-profit institutions are not eligible to apply as a lead applicant (meaning the institution in which ESCAP would sign the grant agreement), if a for-profit institution would like to partner with a not-for-profit institution who is applying as the lead applicant, this is acceptable. Therefore, private sector institutions who are interested in this project, are encouraged to seek partnership with a not-for-profit institution which is applying as the lead institution in the application.

Applications are also open to other UN, government and multilateral entities, who have the skills and expertise in developing similar initiatives.

Target Countries

The applicant can be based anywhere globally, however the Women Enterprise Impact Fund must invest in women enterprises in one or all of the below target countries:

  • Pacific: Fiji, Samoa,
  • South Asia: Bangladesh, Nepal
  • South-East Asia: Cambodia, Viet Nam

It is highly desired that applicants strive to launch the fund in all 6 of the target countries, or in target countries covering all 3 regions.

Application Guidelines

Before applying please download the Request for Applications Information Note, which provides full details on the application guidelines, process and requirements. Also please review the Frequently Asked Questions document which highlights applicant questions that have been sent to ESCAP since the opening of this Request for Applications.


Please download and complete the following documents as part of the application process:

  1. Technical Proposal
  2. Budget Proposal
  3. Annex 1: Submission Confirmation Letter

Applications must follow the submission format as outlined in the Technical Proposal and Budget Proposal template.

Please also ensure that the following annexes are also submitted with the application (no template has been provided for these documents and the applicant is welcome to use any format):
Annex 2 – Resume/CV’s of all project team members involved in the project
Annex 3 – Proof of the organization’s not-for-profit status. (This is not applicable for other UN entities).
Annex 4 – Organizations 2018 financial statement (in English)
Annex 5 – Limited Partner’s profile including name of fund/individual or company

For submission, please note that the email submission should not exceed 10 MB, if your documentation exceeds 10 MB please consider uploading all files to a secure/trusted cloud and share us the link to access the files.

Additional Information

The winning applicant will be expected to sign a Letter of Agreement (Grant Agreement) with ESCAP. Samples of the Letter of Agreement and Agreement Terms and Conditions

Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship

The Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship project is a five-year initiative, aimed at addressing three key overarching barriers faced by women entrepreneurs:

  1. enabling policy environment and regulatory challenges;
  2. access to finance;
  3. use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by women entrepreneurs.

Overall, the project aims to crowd-in investment capital, competition and innovation, and increase the range and reach of services supporting women entrepreneurs.