IFC ScaleX

Closing the gender financing gap for women-led startups in emerging markets

IFC ScaleX increases access to early-stage risk capital for women-led startups in emerging markets. Implemented in partnership with the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the program works with venture capital investors, accelerators, and entrepreneurs worldwide to level the playing field for startups owned or led by women.

The Challenge: In emerging markets only 11% of seed funding goes to startups with women on their founding team, and the figures are even lower for later stage funding.

The Opportunity: Closing the gender financing gap makes good business sense for both entrepreneurs and investors. Compared to companies without gender-diverse leadership, businesses with women in the C-suite or executive positions deliver:

Infographic showing return on investment and growth potential for companies with gender-diverse leadership.

IFC ScaleX Solutions: We help investors to incorporate a gender lens into their processes and we work with accelerators and entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) by sharing best practices and offering free toolkits and webinars. We also provide some women-led startups with hands-on support and introductions to relevant investors.  

For Accelerators

Discover the strategies of award-winning accelerators that enabled women-led startups in emerging markets to raise a combined total of almost $100 million in capital. After a global open call and more than 170 applications, Accelerating Asia, Seedstars, VC4A, Greenhouse Lab, and UTEC Ventures were awarded by IFC ScaleX for their outstanding efforts to help women entrepreneurs secure capital post-acceleration. Learn more here.

In November and December 2023, we held a free webinar series for accelerators and ESOs to share insights and best practices to support female founders. Facilitated by Village Capital, the webinars focused on supporting women-led startups to raise early-stage equity financing. Webinar topics included how to build diverse and supportive investor and mentor networks, applying a gender lens to internal accelerator activities such as communications, sourcing and selection, team, and more. Stay tuned for a summary of key findings and resources.

Our Smarter Systems Toolkit includes practical guides for individual & institutional investors and accelerators & ESOs with concrete steps and tools to help foster more consistent, comprehensive, data-driven evaluations, investment processes, and programs.

For Investors

IFC ScaleX Gender Lens Investing Immersive Program helps venture capital investment firms from across the world create a gender lens investing roadmap, and to apply a gender lens to support women-led companies and help portfolio companies improve gender inclusion. This invite-only program runs from June 2023 to February 2024. 

Investors can also access our Smarter Systems Toolkit for a practical guide with concrete steps and tools to help foster more consistent, comprehensive, data-driven evaluations to incorporate into their investment processes.

For Startups

The Latin America & Caribbean Women Founder Venture Showcase by VC4A, implemented in partnership with IFC, catalyzes funding for early-stage women-led companies. The 2023 Women Founder edition will identify the most investor-ready Seed and Series A startups in Latin America & Caribbean, and support them through visibility, training, and connections to raise capital. Applications are currently under review. 

Stay tuned for women founder venture showcases in other regions. 


Loretta Kathleen Foran
Senior Operations Officer