Washington, DCJanuary 13, 2022 - To help tackle the financing gap that women entrepreneurs still face, particularly in emerging markets, IFC and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) launched today a new call for applications for IFC ScaleX—a performance-based initiative that will provide an award of up to $25,000 to business accelerators that have helped women-led companies in emerging markets raise equity financing.

“After acceleration, women raise far less capital than men, other factors being equal,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Senior Vice President of Operations at IFC. “We must level the playing field to ensure the best ideas are funded. IFC ScaleX is designed to do this, backing impactful accelerators that are themselves backing women entrepreneurs with great ideas.”

Research shows that startups that can access external financing are able to grow up to 30 percentfaster than those that do not. However, accessing capital remains a challenge, particularly for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Only 11 percent of seed funding in emerging markets goes to companies with a woman in their founding team, and the figures are even lower for later stage funding. Furthermore, an IFC study found that male-led startups, on average, increase the amount of equity they raise post-acceleration by 2.6 times more than female-led startups.

IFC ScaleX seeks to incentivize accelerators to actively help women unlock funding opportunities, catalyzing a total of $40 million into women-led startups over the next two years. 

“Gender disparity in accessing funding, particularly in high-growth technology sectors, is still significant,” said Wendy Teleki, Head of the We-Fi Secretariat. “It is troubling to see that women entrepreneurs receive only a small fraction of the global venture capital, despite the enormous potential of their solutions. IFC ScaleX will help promote more gender-inclusiveacceleration and investment across emerging markets, which is critical for creating more high-growth and resilient women-led firms.”

Accelerators can visit the IFC ScaleX website to learn more about the initiative and determine if they are eligible to apply for an award. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. For more information, please reach out to the IFC ScaleX team at scalex@ifc.org.

IFC has partnered with Village Capital, the largest supporter of impact-driven, seed stage startups in the world, to help implement this initiative.

About IFC
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About We-Fi

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a groundbreaking partnership that aims to unlock financing for women-led/owned businesses (WSMEs) in developing countries. We-Fi’spartners include 14 donor governments, six multilateral development banks as implementing partners, and numerous other stakeholders in the public and private sector. We-Fi, launched in 2017, has allocated $300 million to programs that will benefit close to 130,000 women-led SMEs and will mobilize $3 billion in public and private funds. As one of the We-Fi implementing partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investment and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit www.we-fi.org.

About Village Capital

Village Capital helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Our vision is a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1,000 early-stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCapInvestments, has invested in more than 110 program graduates. For more information, visit www.vilcap.com.

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