The Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship programme aims to advance women entrepreneurship and market participation in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in poverty reduction, improved livelihoods and economic growth. The programme works to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to effectively start-up and/or expand their businesses. The programme takes a facilitative approach to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem, by enhancing women entrepreneurs’ access and use of financial services; strengthening women entrepreneurs’ use of ICT and digital solutions to support their business; and through policy and advocacy initiatives.
Creating an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for economic transformation
Women entrepreneurs face complex barriers limiting their ability to start-up and grow their business. These barriers include access to finance and technology, low levels of financial and digital literacy, lack of opportunities for capacity development and discriminatory socio-cultural norms.
The Catalysing Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) programme takes a holistic approach to address these inter-connected and complex barriers. The programme works by influencing and working with an ecosystem of stakeholders, to create systemic changes, which break down the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. CWE does this through three interconnected pillars of influence, which include: policy and advocacy, innovative financing, and ICT and business skills.
- The programme undertakes on-the-ground implementation activities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal, Samoa and Viet Nam.
- With policy and advocacy support across South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific.
Policy & Advocacy
The Policy and Advocacy workstream leverages its expertise in Gender and Social Development to generate evidence through in-depth national and sub-regional research, develops knowledge products and provides technical advisory support to advance successful policies and programmes for women entrepreneurs. Through systematic capacity development efforts, the programme assists policy makers and regulators to develop gender‐responsive policies and programmes.
- Policy Provisions for women-owned small and medium enterprises in the Draft Small and Medium Enterprises Development Policy and Five-Year Implementation Plan(2020-2024)
- Policy recommendations for supporting women owned micro small medium enterprises affected by COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia
- Report of the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs and Women-led MSMEs in Viet Nam
- Infographic Summary of the Viet Nam COVID-19 report
- Discussion Paper – Barriers and Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in Samoa
- Expert Group Meeting on Psychosocial Ecosystem for Women Entrepreneurs in Vietnam
- First Online Talk Show on Recognizing and Managing Stress for Women Entrepreneurs
- Country Update: Vietnam
The Innovative Financing workstream undertakes its activities through partnerships aimed at leveraging public and private capital to pilot, test and scale financing models that support women entrepreneurs. Currently, three key financing mechanisms are being undertaken these include: a FinTech innovation fund, a women’s livelihood bond and an impact investment fund. Utilizing multiple affordable, regulated and tailored financial services enables the programme to address the financial access and usage challenges of women entrepreneurs from start-up to growth stage businesses.
The Innovative Finance workstream also engages and collaborates with policy makers and regulators to support the creation of an enabling policy and regulatory financial ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.
Click here for our recent MSME Access to Financing reports:
- Report: Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises' Access to Finance in Bangladesh
- Report: Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ Access to Finance in Samoa
- Report: COVID-19 Supplementary Report and Recommendations
- Discussion Paper: “Barriers and opportunities for women-led micro, small, medium enterprises in Samoa”
ICT & Business Skills
The ICT and Business skills workstream provides a series of capacity building workshops for women entrepreneurs and policymakers. Employing ESCAP’s flagship programme of the Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT for Development (APCICT) called Women ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI), an integrated entrepreneurship and ICT training programme, our aim is to strengthen the skills of women entrepreneurs to use digital tools or platforms in managing their businesses, alongside augmenting the capacities of policymakers to implement ICT-enabled policies and programmes to foster women’s entrepreneurship.
- Cambodia: Training of Trainers on ICT and Basic Financial Management for Women Entrepreneurs
- Samoa: Training of Trainers: Enhancing the capacities of women entrepreneurs on using ICT tools in their businesses
- Viet Nam: Training of Trainers on E-Commerce Application for Women Entrepreneurs and Women-Owned Small Businesses
- Samoa: Community workshops on ICT tools for Financial Management for Women Entrepreneurs in Savaii
- Bangladesh: Workshop on Digital Skills on Financial Management and Access to Finance for Women Entrepreneurs