To help tackle the financing gap that women entrepreneurs still face, particularly in emerging markets, IFC and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) launched a new call for applications for IFC ScaleX—a performance-based initiative that will provide an award of up to $25,000 to business accelerators that have helped women-led companies in emerging markets raise equity financing. 



Women entrepreneurs in emerging markets face a daunting gender finance gap when it comes to growing their start-ups; only 11% of enterprises that attain seed funding are female-led.

Research developed by IFC and the World Bank Group Gender Innovation Lab, in partnership with Village Capital, shows that despite women leading half the start-ups that participate in accelerators—entities designed to train and support the development of start-ups to become investment ready—they continue to face greatly unequal access to capital. The research data shows acceleration increases the amount of equity male-led startups raise 2.6 times more than women-led startups. The persistent gender financing gap cannot be easily attributed to differences in the quality of the startups, suggesting that investor bias and risk perception may play a role.

IFC ScaleX seeks to reduce the gender gap in equity finance between male and women-led startups by providing financial incentives that will encourage accelerators to increase their focus on actively helping women-led startups to fundraise capital post their accelerator programs.