104 Entrepreneurial Intermediaries and Investors Globally took a Self-Assessment on Gender and This is What We Saw
Here at Value for Women, when we start working with a new client— be it an entrepreneurial intermediary like an accelerator, or an investment fund, or beyond —we like to start with a particular tool: our Gender Smart Nexus Gender Lens Survey. This online, self-paced, holistic self assessment looks at the client’s gender-inclusive practices and offers practical recommendations on how to take gender-smart actions. It also enables benchmarking.
In the process of drafting our new guide, “A Journey Not A Destination”, we stepped back and looked at the trends we are seeing across all the entrepreneurial intermediaries and investment funds globally that have used the Gender Smart Nexus survey. Through its standardized questions, the survey enables us to identify where the organizations already interested in promoting gender equality are currently at, and what is needed. And, ultimately, through spotting areas with concentrations of action or inaction, we are able to better tailor our work to support entrepreneurial intermediaries and investors to apply practical gender lenses and strategies to their work. In doing so, we contribute to unlocking women’s central role in innovation, as well as in social and economic development.
With an eye towards spotting where these entrepreneurial intermediaries and investors interested in promoting gender equality tend to be taking action and where they are not taking action, here’s what we saw in the survey data:
- 61% have a mission or objective focused explicitly on gender. Another 23% are currently working on such.
- 46% have an explicit gender strategy. Another 36% are currently working on one.
- 97% of those “applying a gender lens” are focusing on women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees. Just 70%, are including a focus on women as customers, suppliers, and distributors.
What does this show us?
It shows where in their gender journey the entrepreneurial intermediaries and investment funds that are interested in promoting gender equality are in their gender journey. And it is not just the data showing us this; when we dive in and work with entrepreneurial intermediary and investor clients, this is also where the untapped opportunities are: developing explicit gender strategies and developing activities that support women as customers, suppliers, and distributors, to name two of the top ones.
Most often, the organizations want to access these opportunities but they are stumbling and getting stuck as they attempt to do so. For some organizations, they are stuck at getting clear on why to focus on gender and having the conversations necessary to define how the organization wants to focus on gender. For others, they are stuck in developing an explicit gender strategy that defines where to start. And for many organizations, it is at the point of not just thinking about developing a specific women-focused program but embedding gender into the organization’s DNA in a way that sees women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees as well as customers, suppliers, and distributors. Each of these struggles is ultimately about the journey of making things practical.
So we decided to do something about it. For organizations (maybe yours?) that are stumbling in their gender journey, we just put out “A Journey Not a Destination: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurial Intermediaries and Investment Firms To Overcome 5 Common Stumbling Blocks in Their Gender Journey.” In the guide, we outline these common challenges— or stumbling blocks —that intermediaries and investors face in starting and continuing their journey of being intentional about gender. For each stumbling block, we help you identify where exactly you are stumbling, explain what is underpinning the stumble and how to overcome it, and share case studies of intermediaries and investors that were experiencing one of these challenges and overcame it. Check it out here!
Want a quick tip from the Guide? Underlying many of these stumbles is a lack of clarity. Today, only 18% of these organizations are performing sex-disaggregated analysis of the portfolio’s business performance and 22% are sex-dissaggregating the social impact data in their portfolio. Less than 10% of the organizations are talking to women when they design their business development services. These organizations simply can’t know where they are at on gender and where they need to go. So get clear first— get your data in hand, analyze the data on women and men separately, and then talk to women and men to understand what’s behind the trends you are seeing. With this clarity in hand, you will already see yourself (or your organization) stumbling less.
Check out the full “A Journey Not a Destination: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurial Intermediaries and Investment Firms To Overcome 5 Common Stumbling Blocks in Their Gender Journey”. Take the Gender Smart Nexus survey for free here and get started today becoming more gender smart.
Note: Value for Women and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) wish to thank the Walmart Foundation for the generous funding that made this work possible.
The survey was the VfW Gender Smart Nexus Gender Lens Survey. The data here considers surveys completed between November 2020 and April 2022.
Shoshana is an Advisor – Knowledge Management & Communications at Value for Women. Shoshana oversees product conceptualization and technical writing for the organization's publications, ranging from research and evaluation reports to case studies and podcasts. Shoshana brings over 15 years of international development experience in both leadership and field positions across sectors, notably with the Inter-American Development Bank, Danone, Chemonics, TechnoServe and local non-governmental organizations.
Renée is a Portfolio Lead with Value for Women. She oversees, manages and delivers a global portfolio of innovative gender and business projects, working with impact investors, businesses, and entrepreneurial ecosystem actors. Renée brings to her work a background in financial and digital inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, along with a passion for supporting women’s empowerment. She has previously worked with Cenfri as Project Lead for the i2i Facility in South Africa, as well as with Divitel in the Netherlands.
Norman Sarria Rivas works as a Gender & Business Expert at Value for Women. Norman brings over 15 years of experience, of which more than a decade he has been working specifically on gendered business development approaches, market systems interventions, and developing the capacities of businesses, non-profits and other organizations in their pursuit of more gender-inclusive approaches, practices and methodologies.