Programs & Projects

Summary of We-Fi projects under the first and second rounds of funding

First round of funding

In April 2018, the Governing Committee made its first funding allocation to the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank Group for the initial set of programs and projects approved; the amount allocated, $120 million, will mobilize additional resources of $1.6 billion, surpassing We-Fi’s five-year leverage target. At least 58% of funds allocated under the first round will go toward WSMEs in low-income (IDA) countries and FCS.

The approved programs and projects span across all regions. Some 43% of the funding allocated to country and regional projects is expected to go toward Sub-Saharan Africa; the countries covered include Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia. Around 26% is expected to go toward South Asia, covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Some 20% of funds are expected to be used in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with the remaining amount anticipated to support engagements in East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The initial programs and projects are expected to create some 57,400 new jobs and help 45,816 women entrepreneurs in developing countries take their businesses to the next level.

Key elements of these programs and projects include:

  • Provision of comprehensive, ecosystem solutions to improve women’s entrepreneurship;
  • Activities in several fragile and conflict-affected situations, including in Cote d’Ivoire, Kosovo, Mali, Mozambique, and Yemen;
  • Leveraging global knowledge, data and evidence; and
  • Leveraging partnerships


Current We-Fi programs and projects

Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was granted $12.6 million under We-Fi’s first round of funding for a program on “Enabling an Empowering Business Environment for Women Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka”. This single, multi-pronged program builds on an existing line of credit channeled via commercial banks in Sri Lanka. It is designed to: (i) facilitate access to finance for up to 616 WSMEs in Colombo and lagging areas of Sri Lanka; (ii) build capacity, provide access to training and mentoring for 250 women entrepreneurs; (iii) support an additional 450 WSMEs through an e-platform; (iv) provide direct investment and advisory support to 10 participating financial institutions to improve gender-inclusive financial products and services to women; and (v) offer technical assistance to government agencies to improve the policy and regulatory environment. It also focuses on data collection and evidence-building on women’s entrepreneurship and includes an impact evaluation. It expects to make a significant dent in reducing Sri Lanka’s gender credit gap, estimated at $350 million.

To date, 314 WSMEs have received grants totaling $2.8 million. Consultations with stakeholders are underway to prepare a Gender Inclusive policy and regulatory framework. 500 women entrepreneurs will begin capacity building training in May 2019. Impact evaluation has been designed and will start implementation alongside grants and training.

Islamic Development Bank

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) was granted $32.2 million under We-Fi’s first round of funding for its “Business Resilience Assistance for Value-adding Enterprises for Women (BRAVE Women) program”. BRAVE Women complements and expands existing successful initiatives in Yemen, Nigeria, and Mali. It aims to enhance the resilience of WSMEs in fragile contexts, recognizing their untapped economic potential, and is increasing business growth opportunities for women entrepreneurs by boosting investment and providing capacity-building support.

Project implementation has begun in Yemen and will roll out in Nigeria and Mali in 2019 and 2020 respectively. IsDB is working with the Yemen Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation for public sector alignment and endorsement And with three banks for grant administration: Al Kuraimi Islamic Micro-Finance Bank, Saba Islamic Bank of Yemen and Tadhamon International Islamic Bank. The project provides skills training and access to finance schemes, aimed at boosting entrepreneurship and job security.

Expected results in the three countries include business resilience training for 1,500 WSMEs, matching grants to 1,200 WSMEs for business development, collaboration with 60 business associations, and establishment of open-source IT platforms in each country to track interactions between WSMEs and the executing agency. Overall, the program expects to support an estimated 1,500 WSMEs and result in 2,400 new jobs.

World Bank Group

The World Bank Group (WBG) was granted under We-Fi’s first round of funding $75 million for its program “Creating Finance and Markets for All”, with $49 million allocated to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to lead private-sector initiatives, and $26 million allocated to the World Bank to lead public-sector activities. Over half of the funds allocated to the WBG is dedicated to International Development Association (IDA) eligible countries and conflict affected states where women struggle most to grow their small and medium businesses, in 25 countries including Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The approach is organized around three pillars: (i) strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems, (ii) expanding financial services, and (iii) improving market access. The program is pursuing ambitions targets: to reach 43,000 women entrepreneurs, create 55,000 new jobs, catalyze $870 million in loans to WSMEs, and to leverage a total of $1.5 trillion in additional financing in support of women’s entrepreneurship. The program commenced in June 2018 with projects that will be implemented by IFC and the World Bank over five to seven years.

The World Bank’s $26 million We-Fi program is implementing 24 projects in eight selected country projects (in Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia), regional initiatives in MENA and West Africa, and global activities to undertake data collection, impact evaluations, learning and policy dialogue, and advocacy. These efforts span the three joint WBG pillars and seek to leverage and ensure synergies with IFC private sector engagements.

IFC is rolling out scalable commercial solutions with about 50 private sector clients. This includes mobilizing capital targeted at supporting WSMEs, advising financial institutions and corporates on how to more effectively engage this segment, and developing innovative models to sustainably expand financial services and market access for women entrepreneurs. From its We-Fi budget for client engagements, IFC anticipates allocating about 60% to investment activities and the rest to advisory services across the program pillars. In addition, IFC will undertake activities around data collection, program monitoring and evaluation. The pipeline of advisory and investment operations includes: loans to banks in Vietnam and India, a We-Fi performance rebate to incentivize banks to expand loans to WSMEs, a risk-sharing facility to a bank in Kosovo, and blended finance to a global fund focused on WSMEs. Partnerships have been forged with business accelerators Village Capital and Flat 6 Labs; the Global Banking Alliance for Women; and WEConnect to expand supplier diversity in procurement contracts

Funding Awarded to Proposals under the First Call

Funding Awarded to Proposals under the First Call