From the CEO

The theme for ygap during the October to December quarter was one of recovery. Not recovery in the sense that the crisis was over, or even that we’d already weathered the worst of the storm, but recovery from the initial shock and response of the first global pandemic we’ve seen in our lifetimes. As each country grapples with its own second waves, outbreaks, new strains and health infrastructure, the work begins to try and minimize the economic and social aftershocks of COVID-19 as much as possible. This is a crucial piece of work for us as ygap.

This quarter, we’ve seen the Re-Accelerator programs devised by each of our country teams begin to wrap up, after supporting impact ventures whose business models and revenue have been greatly impacted by the rapid changes to our day to day lives. These programs were designed in response to the needs of our alumni community, and as the analyses and reflections begin to arrive, we’re proud to be seeing some incredible stories of resilience and innovation in the face of adversity. Ventures like BridgeCap Insurance from the ygap Kenya program, Kahuto Pacific from the yher Pacific Islands program, and Robofun from the ygap First Gens program in Australia have not only survived the pandemic, they have shifted their operations to find new markets, new sources of revenue, and new ways of operating to continue on their entrepreneurial journey. As CEO, I am so proud of the ygap team for developing and implementing such a successful, needs-based response, and inspired by all the ventures that fought to continue their operations through such difficult circumstances. They serve as a model of resilience and recovery to all of us.

This quarter also saw our seventh Polished Man campaign come to fruition focused on raising both awareness and funding to help end violence against children. With COVID-19 lockdown complications came the challenge of turning what had traditionally been heavily face-to-face components of the campaign to run solely online and at a time when non-profit fundraising in Australia was in a downward trend. Despite these challenges as well as having the leanest team we’ve ever had on the campaign, they were able to achieve the most successful launch in the history of the campaign. In addition to featuring new partners including PETstock and the introduction of the ‘Polished Pet’ campaign, the garnering of significant international support through ambassadors like K-Pop (Korean-Pop) band ATEEZ, and the launching of a successful advocacy campaign in Pakistan (see video in the Polished Man update below). I would like to extend a hearty congratulations to the team on such a brilliant job done and look forward to seeing how we can build upon this in 2021.

As we begin to shift our gaze from immediate response to longer term recovery I am reminded that this is often the most difficult part of any disaster. Once the immediate crisis has passed and the initial adrenaline subsided, it can be hard to change the lens from survival to planning for the future and draw on the necessary energy. However in order to collectively move forward and reduce the duration of the impact that COVID-19 is having on global poverty levels and increased inequality in every country globally, we must be striving for greater unity, more collective strength, a global mindset, and the clarity that we can only be at our best when everyone is at the table.

Thank you for your continued support as we look towards a new year, a new set of challenges, and the example of the resilient ventures we work alongside to give us all strength.


Mark Harwood

From the Head of Global Programs

From an impact perspective, this quarter has signified a shift from resilience and an initial response to COVID-19, toward the longer term and more complex issue of economic and social recovery from the pandemic. 

This quarter saw our six Re-Accelerator programs that were launched in response to COVID-19 conclude, with post-program surveys and evaluations giving us an insightful look into whether this set of never-before-run programs had delivered what we had intended with their design. As a reminder, the main objective of our Re-Accelerator programs was to support our alumni ventures through the initial shock of the pandemic, in an effort to reduce the number of ventures that were forced to close, and minimise revenue and employment loss. There were certainly a lot of lessons learned in terms of what type of support was most useful to these ventures and the difficulties of delivering a purely virtual program, particularly in some of the regions we work in where the technological infrastructure isn’t always available, affordable or reliable. Despite these challenges, we’re very pleased to report that for the alumni ventures who completed the Re-Accelerator program, 100% of these ventures are still in operation, and 62% of them have experienced an increase in revenue. This is a result that we are incredibly proud of, particularly given the general socio-economic fallout we are bearing witness to around the world. More information on our suite of Re-Accelerator Programs, including a gender analysis, can be found in the following section. 

In addition to concluding our Re-Accelerator programs, this quarter we began to look ahead at the momentous task of economic and social recovery, and began  planning our 2021 Impact activities to help with the economic and social recovery of the regions in which we work. Our in-country Impact teams have been hard at work conducting market research, engaging with early-stage funders and reaching out to our ecosystem partners to design programmatic strategies that play to the strengths and needs of each context, factoring in space for new local partnerships and innovation in program design. As the continuing economic and social implications of the pandemic begin to be realised, this flexibility and the general broadening of our support to protect and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystems in which we work, is more important than ever. I look forward to sharing what our Impact activities will be in our next quarterly report. 

Lastly, this quarter we have continued to prioritise the investment into our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) capacity, exploring how we can adapt our MEL approach to the specific local ecosystems and contexts that we work in. Our in-house MEL team has been working intimately with each in-country Impact Team to determine how to best monitor and evaluate the delivery of our Re-Accelerator Programs, gathering useful, context-specific data that allows us to analyse, learn and improve our programmatic activities with more confidence and clarity. As we shift our main measurement of success from the gross number of lives impacted by the ventures who participate in our programs, to a more sophisticated and in-depth model of evaluation, we’re confident in our ability to continue learning, growing, designing and delivering evidence-based and contextualised programs to support local entrepreneurial ecosystems and the ventures who work within them

As 2020 comes to an end and we prepare for a new year, we know that this transition from response to recovery will not be an  easy ride. The rapidly changing needs of the impact ventures and entrepreneurial ecosystems in which we work will continue to push us to  challenge the status quo of our work and to diversify the range of programs and activities that we deliver in order to continue to provide local, appropriate and context-specific support in the most impactful manner. 


Simon Lee

Impact Update

We’re so proud to report that 100% of the businesses that engaged with our Re-Accelerator programs in 2020 have been able to keep their businesses running, and that 62% of them have reported an increase in revenue. This is an incredible feat given the economic challenges of the economies that many of these ventures operate within.


Participants across all Re-accelerator programs reiterated time and time again the value of the one-on-one, tailored nature of ygap support. Indeed, it was the one aspect of the program that was found to be unanimously useful. This is a consistent insight that has been echoed in past program iterations (pre-COVID), and we will continue to review this feedback as we design our suite for 2021 programs where we intend to build upon our  standardised programmatic methodology and co-create a package of local, context-specific support to the participants in our programs.


Click through the tabs below to see a breakdown of the programs’ impact for the quarter.


Polished Man Wrap and Report

One billion children experienced violence in the last year alone; that’s half the world’s children. This sobering statistic is the reason why Polished Man exists, and why this past October, we proudly ran our seventh campaign.

Things looked a little different from prior years, though: running the campaign from lockdown in Melbourne, completely online, amidst a global pandemic, and with non-profits across the country reporting a significant downturn in fundraising. 2020 threw us a set of unexpected and challenging circumstances, so we decided to match those with some exciting new responses.

A new partnership with PETstock saw the introduction of Polished Pet, an opportunity for people to sign their furry best friends up to the campaign, paint a claw at any PETstock salon, and fundraise. In its first year, Polished Pet had nearly a thousand pets jump on board, from shaggy dogs to scaly lizards.

A slew of new and committed ambassadors increased our reach to new audiences as they participated in online readings of favourite childhood story books, Instagram live interviews, media opportunities, and posting about why they were involved in the cause.

We had some wide-reaching international engagement through the generous time and support of popular K-Pop band ATEEZ, whose active fan-base enthusiastically liked, commented and donated their way through the campaign.

And, we were able to run an awareness campaign in Pakistan thanks to the support of Shaniera and Wasim Akram, which garnered some influential names across Pakistani sport and art, resulting in a lot of media attention. You can watch their promotional video here.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the Polished Man team were able to rebound and run a highly successful campaign.

We’re very excited to report that the 2020 Polished Man fundraising total is a massive $856,253, and would like to deeply thank the Polished Man community for their generosity and support in helping us to achieve this number. These funds allow us to continue backing trauma prevention and trauma recovery programs for children who are at risk of experiencing, or who have already experienced, violence. We are so proud to continue work with some incredible organisations in this space – SAMSN, the New York Center for Children, Hagar Australia, The Australian Childhood Foundation, and of course the work of ygap. A rise in reports of domestic and family violence in 2020 was a deep reminder of the vulnerability of children, and how important it is to be working towards a future where no childhood is affected by violence.

Thank you to everyone who got on board by signing up, polishing a nail for the month of October, having those hard conversations about why this issue is so important, and raising funds to continue our mission of helping to end violence against children. We look forward to seeing you again for the 2021 campaign.


Kaitlin Harasym
Polished Man Campaign Manager

ygap Leads Metrics Session at ANDE Conference

In November, ygap MEL Officer, Hedda Ngan and Program Director, ygap Collaborations, Audrey Jean-Baptiste joined the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Metrics Conference hosted by the ANDE India Chapter. They contributed to a week-long discussion with peers around the various challenges and experiences of impact measurement in nascent and often under-resourced entrepreneurial spaces.

In the closing session of the conference, ygap teamed up with Impact Hub to run an interactive session, “Incorporating a Gender Lens to Entrepreneur Support – Tools and Frameworks for Action” which builds off ygap’s work in developing the Gender Lens in Incubation and Acceleration (GLIA) toolkit with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and sharing about our current GLIA capacity building pilot where ygap is testing indicators to assess the effectiveness of implementing gender-inclusive strategies in entrepreneur support organisations in South East Asia. The participants discussed how they were currently capturing and using data, and how they would ideally like to capture and use data to enhance gender equality. There were some very interesting conversations around what different organisations were doing and there was consensus that collecting gender-disaggregated data is a good starting point for all organisations. Other food for thought included the need for male ambassadors to champion gender equality, and the importance of thinking about impact beyond the entrepreneur that we work with, to what impact towards gender inclusion might look like in their community.

Bangladesh UNDP Contract

ygap Bangladesh has partnered with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) for the second time as technical experts to support the delivery of their Youth Co:Lab Springboard Programme in Bangladesh!

Youth Co:Lab is the largest youth social entrepreneurship movement across 25 countries in Asia Pacific, supported jointly by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation. The platform encourages youths, partners and government officials in Asia to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences, to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and encourage social innovation leading to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ygap Bangladesh will provide tailored mentorship and entrepreneurship training to the top five entrepreneurs of Youth Co:Lab’s 3rd cohort in Bangladesh, supporting them as they prepare to pitch their social innovation projects at the Regional Finals.

After a competitive selection process,  ygap Bangladesh was selected as technical experts to deliver this project out of many applicants, both domestically in Bangladesh and abroad, and is a testament to the growing reputation of ygap Bangladesh’s work in the South Asian social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Congratulations to Erad Kawsar, our ygap Bangladesh Country Director, and Mehrab Bin Tarek, our ygap Bangladesh Program Manager.

Team Update

ygap was sad to farewell our wonderful graphic designer, Elly Downing, at the end of 2020. Elly was with ygap for over two years, and was the creative mind behind our beautiful reports, collateral, and countless other creative works. Elly has worked behind the scenes and across the organisation to champion and progress ygap’s brand – a job she has done faultlessly. In 2020, Elly was also the driving force behind all of Polished Man’s design needs, an incredible undertaking. We would like to thank Elly from the bottom of our hearts for her commitment to ygap and her impeccable work over the years, and wish her the best of luck for the future.

In the Spotlight

Bringing together chefs, food entrepreneurs, agribusinesses and producers, a showcase was held at the Australian High Commissioner’s Residence in Suva, showcasing Fiji’s vibrant food scene, creating conversation and connecting the ecosystem in a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship.

A smorgasbord of tastings were available – yher Pacific Islands alumni Tasty Island Treats brought their signature healthy chill pops, while Mama’s Mushrooms showcased their pickled mushrooms and tempura mushroom. Other foodpreneurs included KokoMana with chocolate coated ginger, Marama Niu presenting their newly-launched coconut-milk based ice-cream, and Waitika Farm, with a plethora of honey-based products.

This event was held towards the end of the yher Pacific Islands Re-Accelerator Program that included in-person sessions with the ventures in Suva and Lautoka. This included a combination of both 1:1 and cohort sessions which incorporated professional and personal discussion in a safe and open environment. Offering one another guidance, sharing opportunities, identifying synergy and ways to collaborate, celebrating wins and commiserating across challenges;  this togetherness helped forge trust, rapport and a cornerstone of resilience for the ventures involved.

Talei Goater, yher Pacific Islands Program Manager

We’re pleased to present ygap’s FY19/20 Annual report. Despite being a time of such change, transition and uncertainty all around the world, we’re proud of what we have been able to achieve together as a global organisation over the last 12 months.

Thank you to all of our partners, sponsors and the wider ygap community for your support over the last year and we look forward to seeing what FY20/21 will bring.

Our 2020 First Gens did something no other ygap cohort has done before; completed the entire program online. Instead of finishing with our usual live Demo Day, each venture recorded a pitch video.

This incredible cohort of diverse founders are heading up ventures that are already making a meaningful contribution to Australia, from addressing plastic waste to creating a whole new market for quality, unwanted goods, and we are so excited to be able to share their ideas and their hard work with you. You can access their pitch videos here.

Thank you