A note from the team

The turn of the year brought a renewed sense of purpose and urgency as news broke that due to COVID-19, global prosperity is facing a major and critical setback; the number of people living in poverty is set to rise for the first time since 1998, effectively reversing a generation of progress. Inequality is projected to increase across every single country. The ongoing after-effects of income and employment loss has hit vulnerable communities the hardest; people who were already under-resourced bear the brunt of the crisis while the world’s richest quickly recover.

As the pandemic continues to have implications for the economic stability of billions of people, it has become clear just how fragile progress towards equity is, and how vital it is to continue pushing for decent work and enough income for everyone. And, we’re seeing how deep the connection between economic stability and gender, hunger, human rights, and employment, really are. This has further reinforced our commitment to the work that we do.

As we’ve been preparing our suite of activities for the year ahead, we’ve also done some important introspection within the organisation. We’re reviewing the evolution of our work and how we talk about it. Because we consistently challenge ourselves to change and grow to best meet the needs of the people and communities we serve, ygap has collectively re-examined the vision and mission we set way back when the organisation was founded in 2008 to see if they are still the best representation of what we do and what is needed given the global context we find ourselves in. We are excited to share the results of those conversations with you soon.

Impact Update

Acknowledging an increase in disadvantage and inequality across every location ygap works, our in-country Impact Teams have focused specifically on what they can do in their respective locations this year to address the different manifestations of that by supporting locally-led entrepreneurship.

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

The ygap Kenya 2021 Accelerator Program will go against the grain and focus specifically on  supporting 25 ventures outside of the capital, Nairobi where the majority of support is concentrated. This strategy aims to make the program more accessible to rural and regional-based ventures, who have less access than urban-based ventures. This rural-focused recruitment drive will see the ygap Kenya team engaging with ecosystem partners in regional hubs around the country like Kisumu, Busia, Mombasa and Eldoret. The ygap Kenya 2021 Accelerator Program will start in May 2021.

There are over 300 organisations in South Africa specifically supporting entrepreneurship. This is good news as it acknowledges the  importance of entrepreneurship as a driver for change, particularly in the most unequal country in the world.  However, it also means most support for entrepreneurial activities in concentrated in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This year ygap South Africa is deliberately expanding its reach to support entrepreneurs outside of these urban hubs through the ygap South Africa 2021 Accelerator Program. Recognising that there are incredible, high-impact enterprises throughout South Africa, the program aims to support enterprises currently excluded from this support. Applications for the ygap South Africa 2021 Accelerator Program are now open with the program starting in August 2021.

The ygap Bangladesh program recently won the Global Start-Up Awards ‘Best Incubator or Accelerator’ in the South Asia region for 2021. This win continues to solidify ygap Bangladesh as a significant player in the impact entrepreneurship ecosystem. ygap’s partnership with local partner Inclusive Bangladesh Development (IBD) continues in 2021, as the ygap Bangladesh program blazes a trail for locally-led social enterprise across the country. In addition to collaborating with the UNDP’s Youth Co:Lab Program for the second year in a row, the ygap Bangladesh 2021 Accelerator Program will recruit and support 12-15 ventures from across the country. Applications for the ygap Bangladesh 2021 Accelerator Program are now open with the program starting in June 2021.

In 2021, the ygap First Gens is excited to be collaborating with the Hume City Council to contribute to  inclusive economic development outcomes within the Hume City region. Reflective of the council’s significant diversity, ygap First Gens will leverage its expertise in supporting diverse founders of small businesses to run a place-based accelerator program, the StartNorth Accelerator Program, that will support 15 diverse-led enterprises. This collaboration will support the development of a local, thriving business ecosystem within Hume City Council whilst also strengthening the council’s long-term capacity to engage with and support diverse business owners. Applications will open in May with the program starting in July 2021.

In 2021, yher Africa is seeking to fill a critical and acknowledged gap in the African, female entrepreneurship ecosystem by addressing the funding misalignment that exists between early-stage investors and women-led ventures in Africa. Having supported many women-led African ventures over the last few years, we absolutely thrilled to be launching the yher Africa 2021 ‘Investment Unreadiness Program’ which builds upon our existing accelerator program to include capacity-building and tailored consulting services to address the knowledge gap, confidence, and preparedness that prevents women entrepreneurs from connecting with much-needed growth capital. This will be done in collaboration with ecosystem partners and through leveraging the expertise of the ygap Kenya and ygap South Africa teams.

Having run a regional yher Pacific Islands Accelerator Program for the past three years across multiple Pacific Island Countries, in 2021 the team is going to go deep and support women-led ventures nationally across Fiji. This is partially due to the challenges and associated risks of running a regional program during a pandemic but more so in response to the need for in-person support having been expressed by the women-led ventures during and post the 2020 Re-accelerator Program. We are proud to run the first ever yher Pacific Islands (Fiji) 2021 Accelerator Program focused upon supporting women-led ventures operating in the nascent Fijian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Applications for the yher Pacific Islands (Fiji) 2021 Accelerator Program are now open with the program starting in June 2021.

New GLIA toolkit content launch

ygap is excited to launch new content for the Gender Lens in Incubation and Acceleration (GLIA) Toolkit, in partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. The new content is focused on ‘Measuring Gender Equality’, which will help Entrepreneurship Support Organisations (ESOs) explore a practical approach to measure, evaluate and learn from the effectiveness of strategies implemented to promote gender equity across the scope of their organisation and operations. The new content also includes a series of entrepreneur training resources that explore themes including gender and power, imposter syndrome, gender in service and product design and negotiation skills.

Access the toolkit here.

Our work in the ecosystem

ygap’s consulting arm, ygap Collaborations, launched publicly during January.

ygap Collaborations works with partners including governments, foundations, academia, private sector organisations and other non-profits to design and deliver programs that aim to build a more sustainable, accessible, inclusive and equitable ecosystem.

Areas of expertise include entrepreneur support systems, education and training, building human capital, accessible markets, inclusive finance, gender equity and project measurement and evaluation.

If you or someone you know is looking to deliver innovative and ambitious entrepreneurship programs in 2021 or beyond, please head to www.ygap.org/ygap-collaborations for more information and to download our brochure, or email Program Director Audrey Jean-Baptiste at audrey@ygap.org.

ygap Bangladesh wins award for best accelerator program in South Asia

Congratulations to the incredible ygap Bangladesh team for being honoured with the award for Best Accelerator or Incubator Program at the SAARC division of the Global Startup Awards. ygap Bangladesh came first out of Incubator and Accelerator programs nominated across the eight different countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region, including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Special congratulations to Erad Kawsar, the ygap Bangladesh Country Director, and Mehrab Bin Tarek, the ygap Bangladesh Program Manager, for all their work on building the quality and reputation of ygap’s work across the region.



Kenya regional outreach events

In February and March,  ygap Kenya held a series of regional Sustainable Social Impact Hackathons for early stage social impact entrepreneurs in two regional hubs – Busia on the far west Kenyan border with Uganda, and coastal Mombasa to the south-east.

These two events piloted a new approach by ygap Kenya to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship across the country and foster a competitive, yet cooperative and congenial, culture of finding solutions to problems. The participants were all early-stage entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and had to work together constructively to derive sustainable solutions to some of the social issues existing in their communities.

In this article, ygap Kenya’s Impact Officer, Periz Odhiambo looks at regional outreach as a tool for helping build opportunity and community for entrepreneurs outside of Nairobi, and why that matters. Read more here.

Team Update

Adi leaving

ygap is sad to have farewelled the wonderful Adelide Mutinda in February. Adi has led the ygap First Gens program since March 2019, taking it from strength to strength and developing it into a leading accelerator program for CALD-led ventures across Australia. Adi has been offered an opportunity with the team at the Melbourne Accelerator Program, and though she will be sorely missed ay ygap, we’re excited for her to embark on this next stage of her career. Thank you for all your hard work, Adi.

Yue joins the team

ygap is excited to introduce our new Graphic Designer, Yue Yamanaka-Mead. Yue joins the Melbourne-based HQ team with a wealth of experience, a warm disposition, and a willingness to learn. Welcome to the team, Yue, we’re glad to have you on board!

In the Spotlight

March 8th was International Women’s Day – a day were we recognise that there is still so far to go in the struggle for gender equity worldwide, and where we celebrate the women of the ygap community who are run innovative and successful businesses with a social or environmental focus. These incredible women are leading change in their communities through the power of entrepreneurship, despite the challenges in access to resources and capital that many women entrepreneurs face. Click here to read more about six of our program alumni and the ventures they run.

Our incredible Polished man Campaign Manager, Kaitlin Harasym, was invited to speak at the 2021 Fundraising Institute of Australia Conference. This conference brings together the best fundraisers from across the country to share insights, experiences and advice.

Kaitlin spoke about how Polished Man has grown from simply an idea with a $0 budget into a global movement fundraising $7M in 7 years, taking off in over 100 countries around the world, with 93,973 fundraisers and 56,416 donors.

Last year, Kaitlin led a lean team through the uniquely challenging fundraising climate of 2020, to great success. Congratulations on this recognition, Kaitlin!

We’re excited to confirm that ygap has just officially renewed our partnership with the Argidius Foundation for the span of 2021-24.  They are a champion for entrepreneurship as a driver for change in the world, having supported our ygap Kenya program for the last three years, and we are excited to be able to continue working with a partner who so deeply understands and supports what we do.

Thank you