Written by: Hannah M. Lewis -
Communications & Research Advisor, Global Success Fund
Edited by: Kim Kastorff -
CEO/Founder of Kimpacto & Global Success Fund
Meet Isabel. Isabel runs a small business selling artisanal goods in Cartagena, Colombia. Her enterprise has been doing very well for the past few years–Isabel does not seem to have enough colorful, handmade mochilas, jewelry, and weavings to keep up with customer demand. Lately, Isabel has been thinking about getting a loan to expand her small team, move to a new location, and increase her inventory.
There are many entrepreneurs like Isabel across Latin America. According to CAF, in 2016, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represented more than 90 percent of companies in Latin America. Yet, financial education in Latin America, particularly for low-income populations, remains low. OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) looked at the financial literacy skills of 15 year-olds across multiple countries. The assessment found that financial literacy skills among all participating countries were lowest in Colombia in 2012 and–from highest to lowest–Chile, Peru, and Brazil in 2015.
Isabel has had no formal financial education, so she doesn't know where to look for financing. She has heard cautionary tales of business owners who received informal loans from money lenders charging high interest rates of more than 100 percent a year. Isabel understands interest rates and knows to avoid these "loan sharks”, but she’s in the minority in Latin America. According to OECD, surveys from seven countries in Latin America found that less than half the population understands the term “interest rate” and few are able to calculate simple and compound interest.
Financial education (as well as access to financial services) is critical to ensure that entrepreneurs like Isabel can avoid over-indebtedness or taking out a loan with exorbitant interest rates. This gap in financial literacy is something that organizations and institutions are working to fill for small to medium-sized business owners in Latin America. Here are a few examples:
(1) Pro Mujer is a nonprofit development organization that creates opportunities for women through micro-loans and other services in Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Peru. In 2015, Pro Mujer had a gross lean portfolio of $20MM, serving nearly 40,000 women. In addition to providing loans, the organization provides training for female borrowers on topics such as responsible borrowing, finance, and business skills.
(2) With over 700 FinTech startups in Latin America, some companies at the intersection of FinTech and EdTech and seeking to disrupt the financial education space. One example, ComparaOnline, has a website that offers consumers informational services for consumer loans, credit cards, and travel and car insurance. In addition to comparing different offerings of these financial products and services, users can see tips and advice for purchasing insurance or getting a loan. The company, which works in Chile, Colombia, and Brazil, recently raised $14 million from investors for its financial education tools.
So, where does Global Success Fund (“GSF”) fit in? GSF has created the first Pay-for-Success Impact approach, leveraging partnerships and technology to provide low-cost capital and support networks to help female entrepreneurs like Isabel build successful businesses. GSF believes in the importance of financial education to make sure that entrepreneurs and small businesses can access capital to help them to expand their businesses, make an impact, and ultimately achieve entrepreneurial success.
Want to learn more about how GSF partners with organizations working in financial education or how to support GSF’s work? Contact Kim Kastorff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Hannah M. Lewis - Communications & Research Advisor, Global Success Fund ("GSF")
Edited by: Kim Kastorff - CEO/Founder of Kimpacto & Global Success Fund ("GSF")
Imagine a hectic, open-air market in Bogotá. As you walk past stalls piled high with fresh fruits and vegetables, clothing, and non-perishable goods, you hear the shouts of Colombian vendors – who are almost exclusively women - offering their deals of the day (translated):
Two kilos of apples for 2,500 pesos!” “Three dozen eggs for 10,000 pesos!
This Colombian market is a reflection of current economic trends in Latin America, where over half the women of working age - totaling over 100 million – are now in the labor force. And many of these women are entrepreneurs - according to a report by the IFC, women own 39 percent of all formal small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Latin America.
At the same time, compared with other world regions, Latin America has the largest credit gap in regards to women-owned SMEs. Although women own 39 percent of SMEs in Latin America, they receive only 22 percent of loans. Perhaps not surprisingly, the IFC found that formal SMEs in Latin America with at least one female owner are more likely to report access to finance as a major barrier for their business.
Yet, as noted in the report by the IFC examining women-led SMEs around the globe, “the characteristics of women-owned SMEs…suggest that these are well performing yet overlooked clients, representing a market opportunity for financial institutions.” In short, these women-led enterprises are often an excellent bet for banks and investors. Additionally, supporting women-led companies leads to positive social impacts for women, their families, and the world (as you can read about in my previous blog posts).
Recognizing this market opportunity, as well as the chance to leverage the positive social impact that comes with supporting women-led SMEs, some organizations are taking innovative approaches to closing the credit gap for women-led enterprises in Latin America. Here are just a few of them:
Global Success Fund (“GSF”)’s Pay-For-Success Impact Investment Fund – GSF has created the first Pay-for-Success Impact Investment vehicle, leveraging partnerships and technology to provide low-cost capital and support networks to help women build successful social businesses. GSF’s first fund, called GSF-Latina, supports SMEs led by Latina women by offering low-cost loans and support networks while at the same time incentivizing women-led businesses to achieve social impact goals.
Variable Payment Obligation (VPO) Program - The VPO program is a new pilot project funded by USAID and the Argidius Foundation and implemented by Agora Partnerships, Banco de America Central, Enclude, and the Miller Center at Santa Clara University. Many SMEs in Latin America lack collateral and, therefore, cannot leverage it to get traditional loans. The VPO program offers a loan product customized to the needs of women-led SMEs, as its loan structure depends on cash flow rather than collateral. The VPO program aims to increase access to capital for SMEs, de-risk them for future loans and investment, and provide supplemental training to ensure these companies find success.
International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Social Bond Program – Although not exclusively focused on women-led SMEs in Latin America, IFC’s Social Bond Program recently raised $500 million to invest in women-led SMEs and low-income communities in emerging markets. IFC intends to use a significant portion of the capital from this three-year bond to help financial institutions profitably finance and support women-led businesses. Past IFC bond programs focused on supporting women-led SMEs have had a baseline impact of providing 61,455 loans outstanding to women-led businesses (with a target goal of 109,798 loans by 2018-2020).
All of these innovative approaches are providing much-needed access to capital for women business owners – including perhaps some of those female entrepreneurs selling goods at my open-air market in Colombia – and allowing them to receive the critical financing and support they need to sustain and grow their businesses.... plus empowering women to become the social agents of change for their communities.
Written by: Hannah M. Lewis - Communications & Research Advisor, Global Success Fund ("GSF")
Edited by: Kim Kastorff - CEO/Founder of Kimpacto & Global Success Fund ("GSF")
You know the saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
How about this one... Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day; teach a woman to fish and she’ll likely take the profits from her sustainable fishing enterprise and invest them in her children, community, and social impact investments.
The truth is that U.S. women are about to possess a lot more “fish," and we believe the ripple effect will be a growing sea of Impact Investing opportunities.
According to Trish Costello, CEO and founder of Portfolia, the amount of personal wealth owned by women in the US has been growing steadily for the past 30 years as women advance in the workforce and outlive their husbands. In early 2015, women controlled an estimated 51 percent ($14 trillion dollars) of all personal wealth in the United States. By 2030, women in the U.S. will hold approximately two-thirds of personal wealth. And over the next four decades, U.S. women are estimated to inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion that will be transferred between generations. Costello calls this “the largest intra-generational wealth transfer in history.”
So, where will women invest these trillions? Studies done by Calvert Investments, U.S. Trust, and others show it is likely to be in socially responsible, ESG, and impact investments. The 2015 U.S. Trust “Insights on Wealth and Worth Survey” found that 71 percent of high net worth (HNW) women—compared with 49 percent of HNW men—agree that social and environmental impact of the companies they invest in is important to their investment decisions. Moreover, according to the same U.S. Trust study, 40 percent of HNW women own or are interested in social impact investments (compared with only 26 percent of HNW men). These numbers are clear—HNW women want their investments to be aligned with their values.
The potential social impact from women who actively choose to invest with a gender lens is extraordinary. However, many investors still find themselves fishing for ways to make a social impact investment in women, while also making a financial return. In fact, it’s become easier to catch a gender lens investment, and even some with low-dollar minimums. To get started, here are a few examples of innovative investment opportunities that women (and men) can make to further women’s equality and empowerment in the U.S. and across the globe-
Morgan Stanley's The Parity Portfolio is a discretionary Portfolio Management gender lens investment strategy created by The Matterhorn Group at Morgan Stanley. In addition to seeking financial returns, “The Parity Portfolio” seeks to create social impact through focusing on gender parity in corporate America. Its gender lens strategy is centered on the strong correlation between company financial strength and significant female representation in corporate boardrooms.
True Wealth Ventures is a new early-stage venture fund that invests in women-led companies focused on sustainable consumer and health products and technologies. The fund is led by two Austin-based women, Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp. They've been told they are the only early stage impact VC fund with a gender-lens strategy. To learn more, check out the Women Effect platform and Sara Brand’s post on how gender lens investing is gaining traction in the venture capital and private equity space.
SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE) & Barclays Women in Leadership ETN (WIL) are two public investment vehicles that provide exposure to companies with women in senior leadership positions (i.e., companies with female CEOs or a minimum percentage of women on their board of directors). Barclays ETN is linked to the performance of Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return Index. Check out this article from Zacks Investment Research that compares and contrasts these two women-centric investment opportunities.
Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (“PXWEX”) – PXWEX is a broadly diversified mutual fund that invests in companies around the world rated highly in advancing women’s leadership. Created by Pax World Management LLC and Ellevate Asset Management LLC, PXWEX is the first such women’s index of its kind. When choosing companies to invest in, the fund looks at criteria such as gender diversity on boards and in executive management.
Global Success Fund (“GSF”) is the world’s first Pay-For-Success, women-led investment fund with a gender lens. GSF’s first fund, called “GSF Latina,” targets women-led social businesses and women entrepreneurs in Latin America. Through its innovative model, GSF offers low risk and attractive return investing opportunities. You can learn more about GSF, its founder Kim Kastorff, and how to get involved here or by email: email@example.com.
For more examples of global investment opportunities with a gender lens—including Calvert Foundation’s WIN-WIN, Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture Initiative, and Oxfam’s WISE Fund—check out my previous post: Gender Lens Investing 102: From Theory to Practice.
And stay tuned for my next post, which will look at the intersection of women’s empowerment, gender lens investing, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To offer support or learn more - please contact Kim Kastorff - firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Hannah M. Lewis - Communications & Research Advisor, Global Success Fund ("GSF")
Edited by: Kim Kastorff - CEO/Founder of Kimpacto & Global Success Fund ("GSF")
While working with low-income, urban communities in Lima, Peru, I saw firsthand the entrepreneurial energy and spirit of the women in Latin America. Although funding and support were scarce outside of the formal economy, the women started their own small businesses making chocolates, toys, or sweaters. These female entrepreneurs worked hard to earn a few extra soles to pay for their children’s schooling or doctor’s visits. I was blown away by their drive to build successful micro-enterprises and make a better life for themselves and their families.
This "Theory to Practice" post features organizations whose programs and funds recognize the incredible potential of investing in women. This is by no means a complete list, but it provides some key examples of how to move from gender lens theory to practice (check out my previous blog post, Gender Lens Investing 101, if you’d like a refresher on gender lens theory).
Programs that Invest in Women
Calvert Foundation’s WIN-WIN – Started in 2012, Calvert’s WIN-WIN (Women Investing in Women Initiative) has invested over $20 million in organizations that benefit women in sectors ranging from micro-finance to healthcare. In 2014, after deciding to hone in on the connection between access to clean energy and women’s empowerment, Calvert invested another $20 million in organizations creating and distributing clean energy products and services in off-grid communities. Calvert recognizes how products such as clean cookstoves and solar energy technologies can positively benefit women (as well as the environment, health and education). WIN-WIN illustrates how the overlap between gender equality and other issue areas can have a multiplier effect on greater social impact opportunities and outcomes.
Root Capital’s Women In Agriculture Initiative – According to Root Capital, although women produce more than 50% of the world’s food, they own just 2% of titled land globally and receive less than 10% of credit available to small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. While working with small-scale farmers in Latin America and Africa, Root Capital has seen firsthand these striking disparities. Thus, recognizing the potential impacts of providing reliable economic opportunities for women, Root Capital launched its Women in Agriculture Initiative in 2012. This initiative provides loans and financial advice to gender inclusive businesses, typically in industries that employ high numbers of women (i.e., shea nuts, staple food products) and evaluates prospective clients based on leadership, employment, and gender policy and culture.
Women’s World Banking – Women’s World Banking (“WWB”) is a nonprofit with a 35-year history that collaborates with a global network of micro-finance institutions and banks offering financial services to low-income women. In addition to promoting the benefits of financial access for women, WWB provides these financial institutions with market research, technical assistance, innovative financial products, and consumer education to ensure they are effectively serving low-income female clients. WWB’s work includes the creation of the first private health micro-insurance offering, publications on topics such as “Policy Frameworks to Support Women’s Financial Inclusion,” and the creation of standardized Gender Performance Indicators that enable institutions to better evaluate their impact in improving the lives of women. The WWB’s network of financial institutions serves approximately 19 million low-income women around the world. In addition, Fundación WWB Colombia has been empowering women entrepreneurs for more than 30 years.
Pro Mujer – Pro Mujer is a social enterprise with a holistic approach to empowering low-income women in Latin America. The organization’s financial services, preventative and primary health care services, along with business and empowerment training serve more than a quarter of a million women. With its strong micro-finance program—having disbursed more than $1 billion in small loans over the past two decades—the organization recognizes the benefits of providing savings, loans, and insurance to women. At the same time, the organization also sees the interplay of factors such as health and education that are needed as well to help women rise out of poverty, and accordingly provides health and business education programs to supplement their micro-finance services.
Other organizations in Latin America doing notable programmatic work to support women-led microenterprises include Fundación de la Mujer and since 1985 Fundación Mundo Mujer.
Gender Lens Funds & Angel Networks
Global Success Fund’s “GSF-Latina" Fund – Our pilot for the Global Success Fund (“GSF”) is a women-led fund that uses an innovative, success-based investment model to invest in other women-led businesses. GSF’s first fund, “GSF-Latina,” recognizes the strong social and financial returns that come from investing in women. The “GSF-Latina" Fund provides low-cost debt capital, financial training, and access to global networks for underserved female entrepreneurs and women-led social businesses in Latin America.
Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (“PXWEX”) – PXWEX is a broadly diversified mutual fund that invests in companies around the world rated highly in advancing women’s leadership. Created by Pax World Management LLC and Ellevate Asset Management LLC, PXWEX is the first such women’s index of its kind. In addition to its focus on gender lens impact, the fund also strives to deliver market or above-market rate returns. When choosing companies to invest in, the fund looks at gender diversity on boards and in executive management, as well as other policies and programs such as the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
Oxfam WISE Fund – Along with offering funding for women-owned microenterprises, Oxfam’s Women in Small Enterprise (WISE) initiative also provides gender-specific training, access to coaching networks, strategies to address gender stereotyping, and programs to help women entrepreneurs to gain access to new markets and create a more conducive regulatory environment.
Golden Seeds – Golden Seeds is an early-stage investment firm with a focus on women-led businesses. The firm’s mission is “to pursue above market-rate returns through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs and the people who invest in them.” Golden Seeds has invested more than $70 million in start-ups since 2005. There is an affiliated angel investing network by the same name, which invests in women-led businesses. The firm also offers training to new investors through its Knowledge Institute.
Broadway Angels – Broadway Angels is a women-only angel investors group which includes top level executives focused mostly on technology entrepreneurs, and invests in ideas from startup to growth-stage companies.
Of course, these are just a small sample of the organizations doing critical work to promote gender equality and empower women to be successful entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders. Whether by creating innovative financial products and vehicles or by providing educational programs, these organizations are paving the way to a more equal world for women.
In my experience in Latin America, most of the female entrepreneurs do not have sufficient tools, resources, or opportunities. If we can join together and offer greater support globally, I can only imagine the incredible impact we could create for the millions of under-served women around the world, and also their families and communities, not to mention the ripple effect for future generations.
If you’re looking for more resources and organizations for women, or to get more involved - Check out this blog post on "How to be a (woman) entrepreneur" to learn more about accelerator and training programs for women entrepreneurs - written by Kim Kastorff, founder and CEO of Global Success Fund. Or, please reach out to Kim directly - email@example.com. Many thanks and as always, we welcome your feedback and support!
What’s next? Stay tuned for our blog post on emerging global and US trends around Wealth and Women, along with the implications for investing in women and trends for women investors. Also, feel free to let us know about a blog topic that interests you!!!
Written by: Hannah M. Lewis - Communications & Research Advisor, Global Success Fund
Edited by: Kim Kastorff - CEO/Founder of Kimpacto & Global Success Fund
Beyond our moral and social responsibilities - why has investing in women become a smart investment strategy? Microfinance institutions often target women for microloans because they’re a proven lower credit risk and more likely to spend earned income on their family’s health and education. A recent study by EY and the Peterson Institute found companies in which women hold 30 percent or more of corporate leadership positions have the potential to increase their net margin by up to six percentage points. McKinsey Global Institute released a study that claims $12 trillion (yes, trillion with a “t”) could be added to global GDP by 2025, just by advancing women’s equality.
So, what does “gender lens investing” mean?
First, to clear up a common defense - gender lens investing is not a male versus female, zero-sum game. The use of the word gender (rather than women) in the term is intentional; the negative impacts of gender inequality in social and financial systems affect both women and men. We need to provide opportunities for both genders to break the status quo, so that when women are provided equal opportunities in society, everyone will benefit. Both men and women need to work together as entrepreneurs, leaders, and investors to move this field forward and increase gender equality...and to do this we need to also include men in the conversation.
The goal is greater inclusion for both men and women, all of whom can benefit from gender lens investing. By considering gender as a category of analysis in our investment decisions, we can achieve better outcomes for investors and for society as a whole. So, it doesn’t mean narrowing your investment options. On the contrary, it examines how focusing on gender can achieve both a social impact and financial return on your investments. Since power dynamics within systems and institutions tend to negatively affect females, gender lens investing focuses on the positive impacts from investing in women. Advocates claim that through understanding the way gender affects your investments and your investments affect gender, you can make more effective investment choices.
Investing with a gender lens is similar to looking at your investments through an environmental lens. You can positively impact the environment through your daily purchases (e.g. detergents, recyclable materials), or by selecting Certified B Corp companies for your services/products, or a more passive approach in an environmental or social impact fund. A gender lens works in the same way. Even if you choose not to analyze your investments with a gender lens, there are still impacts on women and girls from your investments. So the choice is yours - you can choose an active or a more passive approach to your daily decisions and actions; or you can ignore these decisions altogether. However, you may miss very important opportunities, risks, and biases in your investment portfolio...and the worst decision is to inadvertently create more harm and inequality towards women.
In order to fully understand how to create a positive impact, let’s look at some concrete examples of how to invest with a gender lens. Criterion Institute, a thought leader and pioneer in the gender lens investing field, points to three primary investment objectives:
1) Access to capital
One gender lens is to increase access to capital for women entrepreneurs. In 2014, less than 12% of venture capital funding globally went to women-led businesses. However, a 2009 study found that venture-backed companies led or co-founded by women had annual revenues that were 12% higher than companies run only by men. They also used an average of one-third less committed capital and had lower failure rates. This doesn’t mean that companies with women leaders are always the best bet when it comes to VC or private equity investment. However, through recognizing the biases in our access to capital, investors can recognize investment opportunities that offer strong returns and promote women’s equality.
2) Workplace equality
By working with a trusted financial advisor or impact investing fund manager, or by actively reviewing annual reports and company policies - you can better invest in companies (e.g. Certified B Corps) that promote gender equity in the workplace, including women in senior-level positions and on boards, as well as firms with policies to support women’s needs such as health care, maternity leave, etc. A 2011 study by Catalyst found that companies with three or more women board directors outperformed companies with no women on their board by an 84% on return on sales (ROS), a 60% on return on invested capital (ROIC), and a 46% on return on equity (ROE). It appears that investing in the diversity of leadership and working styles actually makes good business sense.
3) Products and services
A relatively easy, but often overlooked option, is to invest in companies that create products and services which benefit women and girls. These businesses do not need to be women-led. Examples include clean cook stoves, affordable feminine hygiene products, and services and products that improve maternal health or access to education. Not only do these products and services likely improve the lives of women and girls, they often address market failures and gaps, which can mean high-growth investment opportunities.
For gender lens investment opportunities, check out the Global Success Fund (“GSF”), a women-led fund that recognizes the positive social benefits and investment opportunities that come from investing in other women-led enterprises. GSF uses an innovative, success-based investment model to fund social businesses. Kim Kastorff, CEO/Founder of the Global Success Fund, created the “GSF - Latina Fund” to address a major social issue and to provide low-cost capital, a global network and training support specifically to emerging women entrepreneurs and small & growing businesses. You can find out more about Global Success Fund’s work with women-led social businesses, along with the latest industry resources here.
Want to learn more about the field of gender lens investing? Check out these resources:
Criterion Institute published a report called “State of the Field of Gender Lens Investing” in October 2015. Don’t be deterred by its length—this report provides a comprehensive overview of the field, including its history, a strategic roadmap for the future, and key players. You can also check out the “Revalue Gender” section on Criterion’s website for blog posts, videos, and information on upcoming workshops and events.
Women Effect, a new initiative started by Suzanne Biegel, is a global membership community that promotes deploying or managing investment capital with a positive women effect. Women Effect’s website also has resources to learn more about the field and how to become involved with their work.
Impact Alpha has a section on their website called “Gender Lenses” with articles and resources for those interested in the gender lens investing field.
Veris Wealth Partners released a report in early 2015 called “Women, Wealth & Impact: Investing with a Gender Lens 2.0.” It provides an overview of the field and key players; it also delves more deeply into investment options across asset classes with gender lenses.
Calvert Foundation’s Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN) offers women-focused investments for everyday investors, as well as some resources for those looking to learn more.
Also, check out these articles on gender lens investing from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR): “The Rise of Gender Capitalism” and “Belief-based Social Innovation: Gender-Lens’ Next Frontier.”
Do you have more questions or want to get involved?
Please contact us - firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Kim Kastorff
Being an entrepreneur certainly has its challenges - money, time, talent, niche, customers, technology, communication, leadership, focus, turnover - and the list goes on. With so many challenges, it is no wonder the failure rate is a whopping ~ 80% during the first 18 months, according to Forbes.
Yet, we are hearing that many women are now generating higher revenues, greater returns on investment and are achieving high success rates - both in the U.S. and developing countries. So, then why are such few women starting businesses?
Some plausible reasons are the dominance of men in engineering fields and tech industry; that less than 5% of women receiving VC funding; the lower acceptance rate for leading accelerator programs, and the relative lack of good mentors and support for women. Check out this March 2015 Q&A for more key insights from some of the top women VCs in the industry.
As a woman entrepreneur, and founder of Kimpacto (a San Francisco-based Impact Investing Advisory firm working in the U.S. & Latin America) and Global Success Fund - I have faced many of these challenges mentioned, and more. For these reasons, I have begun to mentor other women entrepreneurs, and to offer support regarding personal challenges and business goals.
Over the years, I have been collaborating with numerous social impact organizations that support women entrepreneurs globally, one of which is Change Catalyst in San Francisco. My inspiring friend Melinda Briana Epler just provided a great "List of Accelerators for Women", as she continues to empower women leaders, specifically women in tech.
So in our pursuit and mission to empower women, here are some additional programs, information and resources to help you become a successful woman entrepreneur -
Accelerator & Training Programs for Women -
Among the leading accelerators is Y Combinator, which according to Forbes, have a mere ~ 4% female founders. Given the low acceptance and application rate among women - it is no surprise that women-specific programs are in demand. We encourage you to check out these programs specifically tailored to women entrepreneurs:
Astia is a community of over 1000 experts committed to building women leaders and accelerating the funding and growth of the companies they lead. Astia programs include providing access to capital, ensuring sustainable high-growth and developing the executive leadership of the women on the founding team.
Prosper helps women get their ideas off the ground by offering training and mentoring during a 3-month program, in addition to providing capital investments annually.
Count me in is a not-for-profit provider of business education and community support for women entrepreneurs desiring to turn their micro businesses into million dollar enterprises. Count Me In accelerates women’s business growth with online resources, live events, mentoring, peer exchange, technology support and business-building products.
Springboard Enterprises provides a U.S.-based but global premier platform that helps women build ‘big businesses’ with 500+ women-led participants, raising more than $6.6 billion, plus thousands of jobs. Springboard’s success rate is impressive, with roughly 80% still in business.
Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program is a national competition sponsored by Ernst & Young that selects high-potential women entrepreneurs and helps them scale.
Newme Accelerator offers online mentoring from Silicon Valley experts and coaches, based on its mission to educate and empower tech entrepreneurs globally. Note: Currently undergoing a re-launch.
Women’s Small Business Accelerator (WSBA) is an Ohio-based non-profit offering mentoring, education, shared office space, connections with other women, plus online support and resources.
Merge Lane seeks to both accelerate and invest in women run business, and promise to offer support until it is no longer needed. The program includes a residency requirement, virtual mentoring, an early stage curriculum and personal executive coaching.
Women Launch is a new program in 2015, which provides a Leadership & Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (LEAP) that is tailored for women founders with busy lifestyles.
Avinde is an Austin-based accelerator offering strong connections and relationships, as their core strength. Avinde’s founders are successful entrepreneurs with 25+ years of experience leading multimillion dollar ventures.
Other Networks, Resources & Conferences for Women -
Ogunte - a global platform for connecting and helping women social entrepreneurs make a positive impact on our people & planet.
Women’s Venture Capital Fund - currently expanding the pipeline and increasing the VC funding rate for women.
Women 2.0 - provides networking events every month around the country, and a conference in the fall.
SOCAP - a global impact investing conference held in November in San Francisco, which includes gender related themes for social investors and entrepreneurs.
Anita Borg Institute - promotes women in computing and technology and organizes the Grace Hopper conference in Houston, Texas in October.
To all the women entrepreneurs (or those thinking about it) - please know there is a lot of support for you and opportunities are expanding. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized equal rights in allowing same sex marriage. Just maybe this momentum will also lead to changes for women in the workplace (i.e. equal job offers, promotions, pay). Still today, women hold very few board seats and many also maintain their traditional responsibilities at home - and as you know, the list of challenges and demands is far greater. Yet, some of us continue to follow our dreams. Right now, I am in Colombia developing our first Global Success Fund (GSF) called "GSF-Latina" to support emerging women entrepreneurs, and so amazed to see women receiving education using tablets and technology, while others are starting businesses and getting funding online via crowdfunding campaigns - despite their gender and vulnerable communities. Without a doubt, I am confident that together we can create sustainable and permanent change, and provide equal freedom and empowerment for women around the world.
Finally, my dream is to allow other women to follow their dreams. So, please reach out to share your thoughts or ideas, or to seek help or connections. I would love to support your dreams!
Sending much love to all the women entrepreneurs around the world ~
Kim Kastorff has 15+ years of international finance experience and two Masters degrees - MBA and a Masters of Research in Impact Investing. My goal is to promote impact investing and financial inclusion as we collectively strive for a more educated and financially sustainable global economy.