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2023 Annual Report: Mobilizing for Systemic Change | View Report

Women Entrepreneurs as Climate Champions

Women are more heavily impacted by climate change and need to be more engaged as part of the solution. Women entrepreneurs represent enormous potential as agents of a greener future through their dynamism, creativity, and innovation. Yet without action, many will be left behind in the green transition. Because they tend to be smaller, operate on thinner margins, and in more vulnerable settings, women entrepreneurs often feel impacts of climate change more deeply than men. At the same time, a just transition also needs to consider unpaid care work, the majority of which are undertaken by women and girls. It is critical to recognize unpaid care work and develop care solutions to meet the needs of evolving green markets.

Investing in the Gender – Climate Nexus

Globally, only 0.01 percent of funding supports projects that address both climate change and women’s rights. We-Fi can help mobilize billions more for women entrepreneurs tackling climate challenges.

We-Fi is planning to launch a new round of funding in 2024 to get finance into the hands of women entrepreneurs addressing climate challenges, help them build climate resilience and support them to develop innovative business solutions. This funding call enables the donor community to quickly roll out support through We-Fi’s network of multilateral development banks. In order to bring together a critical mass of support, We-Fi recommends a funding Call size ranging from $50-$100 million in new contributions from donors. The funding call will be officially issued January 2024 with allocations made in Fall 2024.

An Ecosystem Approach to Supporting Women

A We-Fi call on climate would use our ecosystem approach covering; i) access to finance, ii) access to skills and networks, iii) access to markets, and iv) enabling environment to address systemic barriers affecting women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Examples of activities that would result from a funding call include:

Access to Finance:

Working with financial intermediaries to incentivize lending to green WSMEs and the creation of new products and services specifically targeting this Women entrepreneurs in climate sectors. Facilitating the inclusion of gender metrics for impact investors and funds targeting green early-stage businesses. Support the expansion of women-led venture capital funds focused on women-climate startups.

Access to Skills and Networks:

Supporting financial intermediaries in developing non-financial services for women entrepreneurs. Supporting the creation of supplier development programs so WSMEs can adopt sustainability standards and pre-qualify for future tenders. Mobilizing and convene platforms that bring together funders and women-led climate startups to increase the flow of venture capital to women founders. Providing training, including reskilling, upskilling, climate-adaptive and smart-agri practices linked to improved food security.

Access to Markets:

Using a market building approach to help women entrepreneurs overcome existing barriers and catalyze demand.  Work with sustainability-focused companies to set gender targets for local sourcing. Support the creation of local platforms that connect green WSME businesses with commercial customers. Support research to identify sectors with the greatest potential for WSME to cross-over and succeed in male dominated green sectors.

Enabling Environment:

Using a gender lens in climate legislation and addressing regulatory barriers preventing women’s participation climate sectors.  Amplifying women entrepreneur’s voice and participation in climate-related decisions. Encouraging the collection of sex-disaggregated data on women entrepreneurs’ participation in climate sectors and flows of climate financing to women.