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A partnership between global social enterprise facilitator Ashoka and Deutsche Bank will see the creation of a new accelerator programme specifically for women social entrepreneurs in Asia. Called the Made for Good Accelerator for Women, it is the region’s first bootcamp aiming to boost female social entrepreneurship, and will involve mentorship, access to financial resources and assistance among other types of support.
Announced on Monday (March 2), the Made for Good Accelerator for Women is Asia’s first accelerator program launched to support a “thriving ecosystem for female social entrepreneurship”, said Ashoka and Deutsche Bank in a joint statement. It will support 3 female social entrepreneurs over a 9-month bootcamp, which will help bring their operations and impact to an investment-ready level. After the initial learning models, there will be a 6-month online mentoring programme conducted primarily through video conferencing and emails.
Each social entrepreneur will be supported by various mentors within both Ashoka and Deutsche Bank’s networks, including two Singapore-based female managing directors from Deutsche Bank, Sunila Shivpuri and Caroline Liow. The cohort will also have access to resources on financial models, designing investment decks and legal structuring. Deutsche Bank will additionally provide financial resources for the accelerator bootcamp, but has not disclosed further details of the specific amount.
“Women entrepreneurs are an important source of innovation and job creation, but too often they do not have equal access to capital and business networks they need to sustain and expand their businesses,” said Liow.
This year’s programme kicked off in February, though the in-person meeting was swapped out for a virtual online bootcamp due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Participants of this year’s Made for Good Accelerator for Women include Singapore-based Yuhyun Park, who is creating an interactive learning program to help children become responsible digital users. Levana Sani is developing a low-cost molecular diagnostics tool to alleviate adverse drug reactions in low-income communities in Indonesia, and Sri Lanka-based Amanda Kiessel, who is building an online platform to connect social enterprises and businesses for planet-friendly economic initiatives.
The programme will end this September in a pitch event held in Singapore, where the 3 selected entrepreneurs will present their projects to impact-minded investors, corporates and social foundations.
Ashoka and Deutsche Bank’s joint initiative is positive news for female empowerment and gender equality, of which progress has remained relatively stagnant over the years. The United Nations’ most recent gender equality report reveals that not a single country in the world has achieved gender parity on all measures, such as economic, political and social indices.
Even in what appears to be one of the most progressive industries today – the food tech sector working on sustainable solutions for the broken food system – companies are still sticking to the gender unequal status quo. From leadership positions to the gender pay gap and investment differences, women are systematically losing out, despite the fact that women have proven profitable.
While multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs pledged to improve diversity by stipulating that they will no longer take companies public without at least 1 woman on the board, the initiative will not cover companies looking to go public in Asia, a region particularly lagging behind in awareness and action on corporate gender equality.
We recently celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th by covering the women making the world a better place here in Asia. Check it out here.
Lead image courtesy of Getty Images / Ashoka / compiled by Green Queen Media.