Accelerate2030: supporting women innovators
The disproportionate impact of climate change on women in developing economies underscores the urgent need for empowering them as leaders in sustainable solutions. Accelerate2030 initiated by Impact Hub Geneva is one such programme supporting women entrepreneurs towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2022, the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.’ The focus was on acknowledging the contributions of women and girls in combatting climate change and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. As the negative impacts of climate change disproportionately affect women in emerging and developing economies, there is a growing need to empower them to be leaders in sustainable solutions.
Amid the global challenges posed by climate change, women entrepreneurs are emerging as pivotal players in developing innovative solutions for a sustainable future. One significant initiative supporting these entrepreneurs is Accelerate2030, a programme initiated by Impact Hub Geneva that champions entrepreneurial solutions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Accelerate2030 plays a crucial role in bridging the gap by providing essential funding and technical support for SDG solutions, especially in the global south. In its latest cohort, more than 50% of the ventures supported were led by women, showcasing the programme’s commitment to gender equality and inclusivity.
Entrepreneurs like Mariola Urgellés Ventura, the founder of SunSpectra, emphasise the programme’s impact: “In the Accelerate 2030 program, we have gained access to people who actually know how to get funding, which is one of our main problems as early-stage ventures. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expose yourself as an entrepreneur and take your business to the next level.”
The programme’s success stories include Daniela Arias, Co-Founder & COO of Sibö & Co-Founder of CRIC, who, with the support of Accelerate2030, expanded her insect-based protein snacks and biomaterials company globally. Florencia Salcedo, Co-founder & Head of Research & Development of Unibio, addresses the personal aspect of her mission to reduce agrochemicals’ impact in her hometown in Argentina.
Despite the progress, women entrepreneurs encounter numerous challenges, from limited access to funding to battling societal norms and discrimination. Zehra Solmaz from Ecording, an Accelerate2030 Global Finalist, highlights the difficulty of convincing corporations to adopt sustainable practices.
“Today, there are many corporations that are still accustomed to traditional economic models and have not yet understood the importance of the concept of sustainability. Explaining to them the importance of the climate crisis, why they need to be truly sustainable, and to prevent greenwashing in the projects we develop together are among the most challenging things I have had to face.” - Zehra Solmaz
Women like Baraa Eisa, Co-founder & COO of T.joint, share their experiences of facing discrimination based on societal norms. Baraa stresses the need for women to rise above stereotypes and highlights the growing awareness of women’s rights, citing their active participation in the Sudanese revolution.
Access to finance remains a significant hurdle for women-led ventures. Despite the proven economic benefits of investing in women, a mere fraction of blended and impact funding goes to women-led ventures in emerging economies.
Supporting women-led ventures is crucial for building a sustainable future for all. As women entrepreneurs break barriers, it is imperative to address the challenges they face and ensure that financial systems encourage companies to adopt regenerative approaches. Initiatives like Accelerate2030 play a pivotal role in empowering women to lead the charge towards a sustainable tomorrow, proving that by investing in women, we invest in a brighter future for the planet.
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