ANDE announces winners of the second round of the Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund

June 25, 2021

The fund will allow three organizations to test models to increase investment into women-led small and growing businesses in western, southern, and eastern Africa.

Contact: Natalie Alm
Communications Manager
Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) 

Washington, DC, June 25, 2021 – The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) today announced that three organizations in Africa have been selected to receive funds under the second round of the Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund (AWEF).

AWEF, one of many activities under the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative, seeks to address the significant gap in access to finance for women-led small and growing businesses (SGBs), 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. The first round of AWEF in 2020 funded eight grantees working in South and Southeast Asia.

This round of AWEF funding, from a pool of $450,000, will test models for increasing investment into women-led SGBs over two years in western, southern, and eastern Africa, with critical financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “ANDE’s catalyst and challenge funds allow organizations to pilot innovative approaches to challenges in the SGB sector, in this case bridging the gender finance gap for women-led enterprises,” said ANDE Executive Director Richenda Van Leeuwen. “We look forward to sharing key project insights with the sector and enhance our collective support to African women entrepreneurs.”

Each winner will receive up to $150,000 over one year to test models that catalyze investment into women-led SGBs through innovative approaches. Projects will begin in June 2021.

An expert panel selected the three winning proposals out of a pool of more than 250 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:

  • Aequalitas Capital Partners, to conduct a market survey, explore innovative financing models, and offer capacity building for women entrepreneurs to initiate financial flows for women-led companies in Nigeria.
  • Property Point Venture Catalyst, to facilitate networking between SGBs and funders, provide targeted business development support, and consolidate lessons for the broader SGB sector to unlock greater growth and working capital for women entrepreneurs in the property and construction sector in South Africa.
  • African Entrepreneur Collective, to offer practical business development services and provide direct access to low-cost loans and matching grants for 100 women women-led SGBs in Rwanda and Kenya.

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.


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