On the potential of GLI to further women’s economic and social empowerment – An assessment of women-focused enterprises in South East Asia and East Africa

This report is part of a wider study that aims to understand the impact of gender lens investing on women’s social and economic empowerment. It seeks to build a case for gender lens investing in women-focused enterprises through primary research with over 20 such enterprises and over 150 of their women employees, partners and customers across India, Indonesia, Kenya and Rwanda. The research focused on enterprises that either employ women or provide critical products/ services for women, while also engaging with the women employees/ partners/ customers of these enterprises to understand the social as well as economic impact that employment and/or usage of gender-focused products creates on their lives.

The objective is to bring out the potential for contributing towards the empowerment of women employees, value-chain-participants and customers of such businesses, by investing in them (with a gender lens) so that they become more visible as a target segment for gender lens investors. To this end, the report brings out stories of impact on women’s agency, leadership skills, improved support structures and renewed aspirations.

The report concludes by building on existing gender evaluation toolkits and posits a framework of questions which can guide financial institutions and incubator/ accelerator programs on factors that will improve their level of awareness about GLI beyond women entrepreneurship/leadership, integrate gender-sensitive parameters in their evaluation frameworks, and reorient operational aspects to ultimately channel both financial and non-financial support with a gender lens.