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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 percent faster 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-inclusive acceleration 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.

IFC has partnered with Village Capital, the largest supporter of impact-driven, seed-stage startups in the world, to help implement this initiative. For more information, please reach out to the IFC ScaleX team at