United Nations launches a Request for Applications to unlock investment capital for women enterprises

Bangkok (ESCAP news) –The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has launched a Request for Applications which will provide up to US$ 1.3 million in funding for the development of a Women Enterprise Impact Investment Fund in Asia-Pacific countries.

ESCAP’s grant capital can be used for operational development and expansion costs, legal fees, building investor networks, market research, identifying investable women enterprises, portfolio management, capacity building and monitoring of impact. Impact Investment Fund partners are expected to leverage the funds to mobilize the private sector investment capital necessary to operate and launch a Women Enterprise Impact Investment Fund within one year.

“Leveraging private capital through impact investment can play a critical role in supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. ESCAP is excited to announce this Request for Applications and looks forward to working with Impact Investment Funds to unlock the capital urgently required to meet the funding gap faced by women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region” said ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Mr. Hongjoo Hahm.

Applicants are asked to take a gender lens investing approach, with the specific intent to create a positive impact on women enterprises. This can be in the form of investing in enterprises which are majority owned by women (51 per cent), managed by a woman, a majority of the board members are women, and/or investing in enterprises which support, empower and develop the capacities of women.

Key criteria for applicants include:
• Applicants can be based anywhere globally, however the Women Enterprise Impact Fund must invest in women enterprises in one or several of the following countries: Cambodia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Fiji and/or Samoa;
• Applications are open to all organizations which hold a not-for-profit status, government and multilateral entities, who have the skills and expertise in developing similar initiatives;
• It is expected that the applicant would be able to mobilize the investment capital necessary to provide investment to women enterprises.
Successful applications will receive up to US$1.3 million in grant funding, technical assistance and support in obtaining regulatory approvals where necessary.

This initiative is part of ESCAP’s ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ project. The project aims to create an enabling policy and business environment that enhances women entrepreneurs’ access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms as well as increase their use of ICT and digital solutions. The project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms. Kavita Sukanandan, Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP, T: (66) 2 288 1869 / E: sukanandan@un.org