2 December 2020
The New Economy Starts with Gender Inclusive Programs

Gender inequality is a global problem. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women Entrepreneurship Report 2018/19 shows that the average rate of women’s overall entrepreneurial activity is 10.2%, which is more than three-quarters of the overall rate of men’s entrepreneurial activity. Women are already experiencing the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the repercussions of a crisis are never gender-neutral, and COVID 19 is no exception. “Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protection and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men.” This Health crisis could reverse women’s economic gains achieved over the last few decades unless we act purposefully now. 

Over the last 15 years, the Impact Hub network has supported more than 30,000 impact-driven enterprises in 55+ countries across all inhabited continents. Together with our local and global partners, we are ideally placed to contribute to a swift, sustainable and just economic recovery. Impact Hub has a replicable model that is financially sustainable and highly efficient while being deeply embedded in local context and ecosystems. 

At Impact Hub, we believe in supporting entrepreneurs with our accelerator programs as they prepare entrepreneurs for growth and serve as a pipeline for investors. Research by the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative showed that only 13 percent of our applicants were female-led teams compared to 52 percent male-led and 35 percent mixed teams. We believe that accelerators should apply a gender lens and concentrate on making business support and services more available to women entrepreneurs to raise awareness among all entrepreneurs about gender equity and gender equality.

As a result, we developed the Accelerators As Drivers For Gender Equality Guide with the assistance of INCAE Business School, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and thanks to a grant from the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, Canada. 

Ces Rondario, Impact Hub Manila

Research conducted by INCAE Business School and Impact Hub forms the basis of the perspectives and recommendations offered in this guide. We researched and identified several challenges that have negative effects on women’s entrepreneurial activity in Latin America: 

  • Gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education 
  • Gender differences in business sectors (women being less active in high growth industries such as tech than men, and women being more likely to run ventures focused on depth of impact vs breadth of impact than men)
  • Gender-based discrimination and harassment
  • Gender gap in access to resources, mainly capital and business support such as acceleration
  • Lack of confidence and impostor syndrome

Women entrepreneurs from vulnerable communities are even more affected as they are likely to start businesses out of necessity, having less access to information and resources, thus facing substantial difficulties in growing successful ventures. These challenges influence women’s entrepreneurial activity and outcomes which makes them more likely to be stuck in the early stages of venture development. Accelerators have an essential role to play in making entrepreneurship, venture development, and impact creation accessible to all entrepreneurs regardless of their gender. This guide encompasses all stages of the acceleration process: 

    • Program setup and design
    • Promotion, scouting, and application
    • Venture selection
    • Program delivery 

It also describes how gender differences can manifest at the different stages of an acceleration program and explores solutions, best practices, and strategies to overcome them. Furthermore, the guide provides sample outputs, outcomes, and indicators to form a framework for gender lens measurement.

As we rebuild and reinvent our local, national, and global economies, the post-COVID-19 economic recovery phase will also be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to solve two of the most pressing global challenges of our time – inequality and climate change. We seek to contribute to a recovery that ensures that the trends of the past are not only reiterated but more inclusive, sustainable and equitable.

For more information about how to add a gender lens to your accelerator programs, download or consult our guide here.


Mouina-Kenza Mosso is a freelance writer with a proven work history delivering vibrant and engaging copy for the meaningful and creative industries. Her expertise lies in blogging, journalism and social media marketing. Social justice, sustainable development, cultural trends, diversity, data privacy and music are the key topics she is passionate about writing. Find out more here.