Founder Resiliency Series: Anika Legal

Founders Resiliency Stories:

Anika Legal

The team at Anika. Noel Lim (back,centre) is  an alumni of ygap First Gens Program, November 2018 cohort

The spread of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented challenges for Victorian renters and landlords.  In response to this, ygap First Gens alumni venture, Anika Legal is stepping up to provide free online legal advice to Victorian tenants who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 and are in need of rent-reductions.

 “We’ve already begun hearing positive feedback stories – in one case a renter received a 50% rent reduction!” ygap First Gens alumni and Anika’s CEO and co-founder, Noel Lim remarked.

The ygap First Gens team spoke with Anika Legal’s CEO and co-founder, Noel Lim about the impact of the pandemic on their venture, how Anika Legal is supporting Victorian renters  and their vision for a world beyond COVID-19. 


How has Covid-19 affected Anika Legal? 

“As we were already a predominantly remote organisation that provided virtual legal services and virtual legal education, Anika was well-positioned to adapt to the effects of COVID-19. As soon as lockdown laws were announced, Anika had an emergency meeting to identify how best we could help. Within two weeks we launched our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service. With renters and universities being hit with restrictive self-isolation policies, the demand for both legal service and legal education sky-rocketed. As the Anika team is already well acquainted with working remotely, the team was eager and able to meet the increased client and university demand!”


What support is Anika Legal providing to those affected by COVID-19?

“In the wake of widespread financial insecurity, Anika sought to assist in any way we could. Given our usual scope is assisting residential renters to get repairs, we thought our services may be well suited to assisting renters facing financial hardship to negotiate a rent reduction. 

Within less than a month of launching our service, we have been stunned by the number of enquiries we’ve had. We’re approaching our 50th client and it appears the need for our product will continue to increase. Eventually we hope to further develop this service so that every Victorian renter facing hardship can access the legal assistance they need to successfully negotiate a win-win rent reduction with their landlord, helping provide security to vulnerable members of our community. We’ve already begun hearing positive feedback stories – in one case a renter received a 50% rent reduction!”


What have been the challenges you’ve faced?

“Our greatest challenge has been continuing to meet the increased client demand with a significant reduction to available funding as a result of COVID-19. The Anika team is passionate about providing access to justice, now more than ever. Continuing to do that with less funding has meant we’ve had to look for new sources of funding, and to consider what is the most impactful use of the resources we do have.”

What are the key ingredients for overcoming challenges?

“Asking for help. As a virtual legal service in the tenancy space, Anika is perfectly placed to assist the hundreds of thousands of Victorian renters who are struggling to maintain their housing security as they experience severe financial hardship from this pandemic. Being a startup, Anika is also able to move quickly, as demonstrated by the rapid launch of our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service. Anika is uniquely placed to provide relief to vulnerable communities in these tough times, so we’ve reached out to individuals and organisations who can help us, help those who need it most.”


How have you been able to adapt so fast in the face of a pandemic?

“Being a remote startup with a team incredibly passionate about providing access to justice is the perfect combination for moving quickly to adapt to the unexpected. The keys to launching our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service so quickly were worked on from day 1 – to have a team with compassion for the vulnerable Australians experiencing hardship because of COVID-19, and a culture of curiosity to constantly challenge the way things are done, embrace change, and innovate.”


What does a post covid-19 world look like for Anika?

“A world where legal services and university law schools understand and embrace the effectiveness and importance of virtual legal service and virtual legal education. Anika’s client feedback clearly demonstrates that being able to access legal services remotely significantly improves the experience. Anika’s student feedback demonstrates that law students have so much to learn about being lawyers in an evolving legal industry which isn’t taught during a traditional law degree. COVID-19 has made the ability to do both of those things remotely painfully clear. Anika deeply hopes that a post COVID-19 world is a world where legal services and law schools see the importance of virtual services for their users, and embrace a new, innovative way of doing things.”

Anika Legal is a free online legal service that helps vulnerable Victorian renters get their properties repaired. In addition to providing legal assistance to people who can’t access it, Anika also provides practical legal education to law students. 

In November 2018, Noel Lim, co-founder of Anika Legal participated in the ygap First Gens program.

Supporting our global Alumni

Supporting our global Alumni

COVID-19 has disrupted our programmatic plans for 2020, and we’ve had to adjust our support strategy on a global scale. 

Small businesses and vulnerable populations around the world are being hit hard by COVID-19 and the measures being taken to control its spread. Although the pandemic has instigated many shifts around the world, changing both the way we work and the way our impact entrepreneurs do business, ygap continues to support local impact ventures to ensure they survive this crisis and the subsequent downturn.

In response to the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19, we developed a Resiliency Toolkit for our alumni ventures and the broader ecosystem. While this was a good first step, we knew we could be doing more. We asked ourselves how we might best support our ventures during this difficult time and what type of response would be relevant, timely, and ultimately, impactful. 

To help guide this response, we surveyed our alumni ventures to understand how COVID-19 has affected their businesses and how they’re working through these current challenges to determine where we can best play a role in supporting them. Download the survey responses report below to read more about what we learned.

Equipped with an understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting our ventures, we are in a better position to determine where and how we can best play a role in helping these ventures. Whilst these are undoubtedly difficult times, we look forward to continuing to back our ventures as they look to mitigate risk and take advantage of emerging opportunities in light of COVID-19.

With love and compassion, 

The entire ygap team

Alumni Survey Responses

We surveyed our alumni ventures to understand how COVID-19 has affected their businesses and how they’re working through these current challenges.

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Launching First Gens 2.0 'Validate' Stage

First Gens 2.0 pre-accelerator welcomes 25 startups into the “VALIDATE” stage

Voicetech apps, artificial intelligence (AI), online marketplaces and story-telling software are some of the 25 startups that have been selected to progress to the “VALIDATE” stage of this year’s inaugural ‘First Gens 2.0’ pre-accelerator, a joint initiative by Catalysr and ygap in Melbourne.  

‘First Gens 2.0’ supports migrant and refugee entrepreneurs (“migrapreneurs”) and combines Catalysr’s award winning pre-accelerator model with ygap’s internationally acclaimed First Gens Program to bridge the gap between the ideation, validation and growth phases of an enterprise.

70 startups completed twelve weeks of the “IDEATE” stage comprising of masterclasses, mentoring and community events, culminating in a virtual pitching session which led to the selection of the top 25 startups to participate in “VALIDATE.” 

Launched on April 4th, “VALIDATE” consists of a startup bootcamp, weekly sprints and startups events, community events as well as mentoring and support with entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIRs). In response to the pandemic, the program is being run virtually via Zoom and a range of online tools. 

The EIRs are renowned industry experts who have been selected to assist the migrapreneurs with coaching, strategic thinking, problem solving and ad-hoc support. The EIR team includes: Pratibha Rai (product expert), Jeanette Cheah (co-founder of The Hacker Exchange, Anthonly Cabraal (Director at Enspiral Foundation), Winitha Bonney (Founder of Amina of Zaria) and Roberto Daniele (Founder at Changemakers’ lab). 

While our migrapreneurs face challenges that have been intensified as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, ygap and Catalysr will continue to back our migrapreneurs by providing a supportive community, sharing resources and opportunities so together, we can survive the challenges that lie ahead of us and work towards creating a better world for all. 

“Now more than ever, we need more problem solvers. We need more people fearlessly standing up to tackle the challenges we face presently and into the future. These 25 startups represent exactly that. They are rising to the challenge – the work they do, despite these difficult times we face, is very inspiring and I am super excited that we can continue to support them along their entrepreneurial journey.” – Adelide, First Gens Program Manager

“It has been incredible to see these migrapreneurs take on big challenges for the prosperity of Australia and the globe. We have had a very tough job to select the top 25 teams for this stage, some of whom have already launched their products and created value in their community. Especially given the Covid-19 crisis, I can’t wait to see the incredible work all these migrapreneurs will do to tackle directly and indirectly the challenges it poses for our health, work and home life, and economy more broadly” says Usman, CEO of Catalysr. 

For more information, please contact: Kim Nguyen (First Gens 2.0 program coordinator) at

Supporting diverse founders in Australia

Supporting diverse founders in Australia

ygap is and will continue to support diverse founders in Australia. We are here- backing local change.

Although COVID-19 has brought many shifts around the world, changing the way we work and the way our impact entrepreneurs do business, ygap continues to back local impact ventures to ensure they survive this crisis and the subsequent downturn. 

Whilst there is no precedent for what is happening at the moment, we understand that this pandemic is set to have a significant impact on small businesses and vulnerable populations, making ygap’s work, both now and in the long term, more important than ever.

We have been reaching out, talking to and listening to our alumni ventures to identify how we can best support them during this difficult time.

Now, we are eager to understand how our ecosystem partners across Australia who work across the migrant/ refugee and entrepreneurship space are coping and reacting to this crisis, to determine if and how we can best work together to tackle the challenges that arise. As a sector, we are facing rare circumstances that pose new challenges and we recognise the need to think in new ways about how to meaningfully respond. 

To help inform the design of our response and the role that we can play as organisations and ecosystem partners, we would value knowing what you believe are the priorities, gaps and opportunities for collaboration. This short survey will only take a few minutes, but provides you an opportunity to share your very important insights and perspectives.

We would also be happy to share insights from these survey findings with the wider ecosystem, once they become available. 

Undoubtedly, our work backing local impact ventures has and will change in many ways as we adopt new and virtual ways of working and living – but it continues. We have developed a Resiliency Tool Kit to help ventures prepare and ensure that their businesses survive in the face of unexpected shocks, such as a pandemic. We have also created a directory of “Resiliency in Action” of our ygap Australia and First Gens ventures showcasing how they are adapting and responding to the current situation.

In such uncertain times, we can only take each day as it comes. However, we know that if we unite to share our knowledge, skills and resources; together, we can rise to meet the challenges and support entrepreneurs, businesses and communities to not only survive but to thrive. 

Till next time, we will be right here. Backing local change.

First Gens team – Adelide and Kim. 

Do the survey

Resiliency in Action

Resiliency in Action

How ygap Australia Ventures are adapting to COVID-19

ygap is continuing to support our local impact ventures as they adapt to the challenges of COVID-19.  A number of our alumni ventures across Australia are responding to the pressing needs of the community in different ways, from connecting university students with work and volunteering opportunities, to running financial health checks for businesses, to launching a range of local-led COVID-19 response projects overseas. Check out the list below to discover how some ygap Australia ventures are pivoting or diversifying their products and service offering to take advantage of the situation and inspiring resiliency in action.

Homegirls is a social enterprise that gives refugee and asylum seeker mums a sense of agency and social connectedness by creating collaborations with local designers to create statement earrings. We are launching a new product offering in the form of ‘make it at home’ earring care packages. These packages will assist in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in three ways;

1. Supporting local businesses by purchasing materials and tools for the care packages;

2. Supporting the Australian community by providing a creative outlet and relieve stress that may arise from social distancing and home isolation;

3. Ensuring the financial sustainability of our operations and providing our beneficiaries with continual income during this time, and the development of a novel product offering that will continue after this pandemic has ceased.

Halad to Health is an international NGO closing the gap in global health inequality through delivering accessible health education services. We do this through our affordable GAMSAT Tuition and Biomedicine Exam Revision Services. All funds raised from these services go to the Halad to Health Foundation Philippines, to give free health education to students in rural Philippines.

In Australia we run more affordable GAMSAT tuition services for students looking to study medicine and dentistry. Proceeds from our GAMSAT tuition services as of April 2020 will be temporarily diverted to support front-line healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free to Feed delivers a number of food-oriented initiatives. We host authentic food experiences and workshops, we run events and provide catering.

Each month, the incredible kitchen and participant team at Free to Feed will be cooking a delicious rotating menu of nourishing, home-delivered BRAVE MEALS available for pick-up or local delivery on Wednesdays and Fridays. These meals have been conceived by our participants and chefs to nourish families in difficult times to help you bring your loved ones close. Meals made by Free to Feed are cooked with love to keep you in good health.

Goodie actively connects young volunteers with volunteering opportunities offered by nonprofits and social enterprises.

We are currently chatting to our charity partners who are assisting during this pandemic with food, mental health, housing and other services. We would be hoping to provide these charities with volunteers who can safely aid, including the possibility of aid from a remote-working arrangement.

This is still being discussed with the charity partners so if anyone knows of any charities, social enterprises or not-for-profit organisations that are requiring assistance, please let us know. Alternatively, if any of the other ygap cohorts and startups would like to put their hand up to volunteer and help out during this time, please let us know and we can aim to connect you with a charity partner in a safe and secure environment.

ARMCare provides disability support services under the NDIS to refugees and migrants with a refugee background in Brisbane, in a culturally-appropriate manner. We provide employment for former refugees, so that they can provide care for clients who speak the same language(s). Our services go beyond those funded by the NDIS by providing health care coordination, health advocacy, and social support to clients. We also help former refugees to access the NDIS and advocate for them so that they obtain quality plans and adequate funding. Our NDIS-funded Support Coordination service educates clients as to the services available, and enables them to implement their plans, receive their choice of supports, understand their rights, and make changes when necessary.

ARMCare continues to provide Support Coordination, disability supports to those whose needs are critical, advocacy for people needing NDIS plans, and social support for clients and their families.

Financially Empowered’s mission is to equip ALL women with skills to enable them to be financially literate, sustainable and independent. We empower women to manage their business or personal cashflow, set financial goals, and we provide CFO services to women in business. Financially Empowered also runs a ‘Money Matters for Migrants’ program to help remove the barriers that disenfranchised women face when it comes to dealing with finances.

We are launching a Financial Health Check service to help businesses navigate financial decisions they need to make in response to COVID-19. The check will include reviewing their current systems, cashflow management, cost savings, forecasting in uncertain times and understanding their breakeven point. To book your session email:

MoneyGirl is dedicated to improving the financial literacy of every young woman in Australia. MoneyGirl provides workshops covering multiple areas of money. From big financial decisions like investing and choosing financial advisors, right through to everyday budgeting, MoneyGirl provides everything you need to start on the right path. When you join the MoneyGirl community, you’ll be joining a sisterhood of smart, savvy and supportive young women to help you on your journey.

We host a weekly virtual MoneyHang for the community to share money concerns and knowledge. Together we figure out ways to support each other, and build our resilience to thrive during and after the pandemic.

We have live online chats with experts to answer the community’s questions about their money in relation to the pandemic which includes investing during a market down time, understanding the government stimulus package, and more.To stay in-the-know about what’s coming up next, join the MoneyGirl community here:

Just Peoples connects Australians with grassroots, locally-led micro-projects overseas. We connect people with a project that matches their values and support them to donate or fundraise and be the one to make it happen!

We are launching a range of Covid-19 response projects developed by our local project leaders to meet the needs in their communities as the pandemic unfolds, and reaching out to our supporters in Australia to fundraise for and donate towards these. See for more details

Bring Me Home is a mobile app that connects people with nearby food retailers
that have surplus food to sell at a discount. Bring me Home is supporting their vendors and partners in the hospitality industry who have been hard-hit by the pandemic through:

1.Reduced commission
To help alleviate some financial pressure, we are cutting our commission by 5% from the start of April for 3 months, or until further notice.
2. Advertise takeout offers
Got all-day takeout meals and menu deals? You can now advertise them on the BMH app by creating a second listing.
3. Sell excess supplies & ingredients
If you are finding that non-perishables are going to waste and you are throwing away ingredients at the end of the day, you can list a “mystery box” of ingredients on the BMH app with a second listing.

At Qonfr, we facilitate connections between people with mental health challenges and companions (peer supporters) based on shared lived experiences. We do this by harnessing the lived experience of mental ill-health and recovery to support others going through similar challenges while fostering a sense of hope and understanding. Companions – traditionally called Peer supporters – provide support in the form of accompaniment, a shoulder to lean on, a sympathetic ear and friendly conversations. At a time of panic, anxiety and distress caused by the COVID-19, we are working towards creating purposeful connections that help alleviate the growing atmosphere of social isolation.

During such distressing and fast changing situations, we would like to focus on our purpose of eliminating social isolation and thus, waive off any fees/surcharges/commission gained from facilitating connections between the customers and the companions. Essentially, it would be completely FREE to get a companion!! We would also encourage companions to waive any fees associated.

Robofun is a Melbourne based robotics and coding academy for kids with a gender focus offering affordable and fun 3D-Design and Coding classes. Robofun have taken their classes from face to face to online allowing them to now operate nationally.  By leveraging tech, students can refer back to recorded classes, as well as address ongoing challenges via ClassDojo which enables parents to communicate directly with instructors. The small group classes are a fabulous educational hour for kids to spend online learning with family and friends.

Anika Legal is a tax-deductible charity and social enterprise providing free, effective legal assistance to those who can’t access it, through practical legal training and trusted partnerships. In light of the pandemic, Anika Legal is providing free legal advice to tenants who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.

Anika has found that while many Victorian tenants are suffering, relatively few are aware of the free services available to them to give them a better chance at safe and secure housing. Visit their website and social media for more information.

Resilience in the face of COVID-19

Resilience in the face of COVID-19

The topic of resilience is more important than ever in the context of COVID-19. 

ygap is and will continue to support local impact ventures to ensure they survive this crisis and subsequent downturn. We’re currently mobilising our programmatic teams to understand how we can best support our portfolio ventures through this challenging time. We’re reaching out to our alumni ventures to understand how they’re planning to work through the challenges of COVID-19 and what areas of support they need, so that we can determine where we can best play a role in helping them through this difficult time.

In the meantime, we’ve developed a Resiliency Toolkit that outlines clear actions ventures can take to increase their resiliency in response to unexpected shocks, such as a pandemic.

The guide breaks down actions that a venture can take to prepare for an unexpected event and reduce its impact on their business. Where possible, we have included examples and case studies from real businesses who have put these practices in place.

Recognising that a crisis like this requires collaboration and solidarity, we’ve made the toolkit open-source and are sharing it with all of our ecosystem partners to ensure that it helps as many ventures as possible. Please feel free to use and share this resource within your own networks.

With love and compassion, 

The entire ygap team

Access the Toolkit

An important Update regarding ygap and Covid-19

An important update regarding ygap and COVID-19

How we're responding to the outbreak.

As we continue to navigate the uncertainty of a global pandemic, the team at ygap would like to share an update about our programs and some of the actions we are taking to help maintain the health and safety of everyone associated with our work.

Our highest priority at ygap is the well-being, safety and security of our staff, partners, entrepreneurs and those in the communities in which we work. Given the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, we are continually assessing what this means for our work, the ventures we support and the wider communities those ventures work within. In light of this, we have developed an internal policy on how to best mitigate the risks associated with this outbreak and have made a number of amendments to our current and upcoming programs. These measures are preventative in nature and what we believe is the best way to support the wellbeing of those associated with ygap.

  • As an organisation we are well prepared and well equipped to continue operating under a ‘work from home’ mandate. As such, we have directed all global ygap staff to do so until such a time as the World Health Organisation or other relevant authority declares that the threat has adequately subsided.

  • The upcoming ygap Bangladesh and ygap South Africa programs, which were scheduled to begin in April and May respectively, will complete the current recruitment and selection process which is conducted entirely online. However, we will be postponing the start-date of these two programs until such a time as we can assure the health and wellbeing of participants. The yher Pacific Islands and ygap First Gens programs scheduled to begin in July will continue with the recruitment process. We acknowledge that some changes may need to be implemented to these programs, but we will be making no program changes at this time. We will continue to reassess these programs in an ongoing manner.

  • In regards to ygap programs that have already commenced, we have made the decision to postpone all associated face-to-face gatherings, including site-visits, masterclasses, bootcamps and alumni events. However, this does not mean that the program itself is cancelled or postponed. Teams will continue to provide assistance to current program participants through our remote tailored support including operational and strategic advice, mentoring and coaching calls, and access to small grants.

Whilst there is no precedent for what is happening at the moment, ygap sees such precautions as essential given the countries and regions we work across, as well as the communities we work alongside, who may be more vulnerable to a public health crisis. At the same time, we must keep in mind that this pandemic is set to have a significant impact on small business and vulnerable populations, making ygap’s work, both now and in the long term, more important than ever.

In such uncertain times we can only take each day as it comes, look after our health, and practice kindness and generosity towards others. Already we have seen some wonderful acts of humanity as we navigate the unknown. Let’s do all that we can to ensure this trajectory continues.

The state of social enterprise in Kenya

The state of social enterprise in Kenya

By ygap Kenya Program Manager Carol Kimari.

The genesis of the social enterprise movement in Kenya can be traced back to the 1980s when the country began to experience significant economic restructuring. This is what was popularly known as the structural adjustment programs (SAPs). With reduced government expenditure in areas considered as essential social services, many non-state actors came up to plug into the gap created by these policy changes. 

According to a study by the British Council conducted 2016 “State of Social Enterprise in Kenya,” at the time, there were over 44,000 social enterprises in Kenya. Since then, the growth has been significant, and the number could have doubled by now. The social enterprise ecosystem in Kenya is driven by young people under 35 years attributed to the high literacy levels and lack of employment opportunities.  

Take an example of the last cohort of ygap 2020 accelerator; more than half of the entrepreneurs were people under 35 years. The primary objectives of these social enterprises are to respond to the needs in their communities; create employment, increasing financial inclusion, enabling small businesses create value, helping parents access better pre & post-natal care, addressing literacy levels especially in marginalized groups and communities, helping farmers access better markets and farm inputs, and helping young women access employable skill among others.

The greatest barrier to early-stage social enterprises in Kenya continues to be lack of access to capital. In Kenya, many financial institutions are reluctant to give financing to these enterprises. Most financial institutions feel that these enterprises are high risk owing to the fact that they don’t have assets they can attach to the loans. This has slowed down the growth of many enterprises. ygap Kenya, as an early startup accelerator tries to validate their impact and business models to make them more investable and attractive to financing entities. We do this by giving grants to test ideas/ products and overcome early stage growth barriers and connect them to growth funders.

However, although funding is one of the biggest barriers, the lack of government policy or legislation specifically aimed at social enterprises in Kenya is also a big challenge. There are small steps being made like changing the age of directorship in companies from 21 years to 18 years. This means younger people can own businesses without age limitation. This has led to more people registering businesses and according to the same report, State of Social Enterprise in Kenya, more women are running social enterprises. Such policy changes have seen almost half (44%) of the enterprises in Kenya are being run by women most of them under the age of 35 years.

Carol at the recent ygap Kenya Program

The rapid growth in the sector has seen the need to build apex bodies/ organizations that seek to support the sector players better realize their respective social missions in supporting social enterprises. These organizations support their members by organizing seminars where people can learn new ways of doing business, networking event and policy lobbying. Among them are Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), Project, East Africa Social Enterprise Network (EASEN) and the Social Enterprise Society of Kenya (SOSEK). All these have been instrumental in creating a more organized ecosystem. Member organizations like the Business Network International which is a business referral organization that sees only one organization working within a specific field being admitted to a certain chapter. This greatly favors social enterprises because of referrals from other members and reduced competition. Sankalp Africa summit is a global forum that has created an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, multilaterals and policy makers who are committed to furthering the cause of development through entrepreneurship and innovation, and brings them together to initiate dialog and enable action through innovation and entrepreneurship at the base of the pyramid across five high impact sectors: Agriculture, Food & Rural Businesses, Education, Clean Energy, Health, Water & Sanitation, and Technology for Development. This year’s summit in Nairobi saw Ygap Kenya’s four entrepreneurs exhibit their work. This exposure is a follow up to the capacity building programs that Ygap takes the entrepreneurs through to make them investment ready.

As the Kenyan social enterprise space continues growing, it has attracted a host of social enterprises support mechanisms like; incubators, accelerators etc. Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, LakeHub (which was part of ygap 2020 accelerator), Intellecap are among the leading incubators in Kenya. We have also seen the emergence of new concepts like impact investing which is still gaining traction in the country. There are also plenty of co-workspaces in Kenya like the Kijiji that encourage social enterprises to thrive by offering affordable co-working spaces. 

Finally, the emergence of social media as a marketing and communication tool has been a revelation for most of social enterprises. It is now the norm to see a social enterprise set up social media pages to share information and market their products either through Facebook or Instagram. For one of the enterprises we support, Soi Designs, the primary marketing tool is social media. This is great because most of them cannot afford traditionally mainstream marketing platform like newspapers, and magazines.

Social enterprises are rapidly growing in Kenya and these enterprises span out in almost all sectors of the economy- giving investors a cocktail of options to venture in. Adequate funding in social enterprises would provide the necessary leverage as most of them are at a tipping point. 

Entrepreneurs from the ygap Kenya Program 2020

Launching the Gender Lens in Acceleration and Incubation Toolkit

Launching the Gender Lens in Incubation and Acceleration Toolkit

Evening the playing field for gender in incubation, acceleration and entrepreneurship - a reflection on GLIA by Audrey Jean-Baptiste.

At the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network South East Asia summit in mid February, we launched the Gender Lens in Incubation and Acceleration toolkit, an interactive resource for accelerators and incubators (intermediaries) to consider how we can make our work more accessible and inclusive of all genders. By being deliberate about this, as intermediaries we can use our unique position of power to drive gender equitable change in the world around us and increase our impact.

Why is it important for intermediaries to consider gender within the work that we do?

At present, entrepreneurship is an uneven playing field. In entrepreneurship ecosystems around the world, access to opportunities and resources, as well as being respected and heard, can vary depending on your gender. Often unconsciously, gender biases are influencing the way in which we make decisions, from how we’re distributing our investments to how we’re creating and delivering our programs, products and services. More often than not, these gender biases disadvantage women, and has meant that women, women-led ventures, and ventures that support women and girls, still don’t have the same opportunity to succeed. 

This means that we’re still not realising the full economic and impact potential of entrepreneurship.

As intermediaries, we hold a unique position of power. We work directly and deeply with entrepreneurs, as well as the ecosystem that supports them. This means that we can put strategies in place to level the playing field for all genders within our organisations and programs, as well as influence ecosystem players to consider gender within their work, and founders to consider it in how they’re building their ventures.

How can we as intermediaries use our power to drive gender equitable change?

We can do it directly by creating equal access to our programs and organisations to all genders, and fostering an inclusive environment that responds to their needs and unlocks their skills, experience, and potential. The GLIA toolkit provides guidance for how we can go about identifying gender related issues within our work, and provides example strategies and frameworks that can be contextualised to address these. 

As intermediaries, we can also play a role in bridging the demand and supply of capital towards entrepreneurship that drives gender equality. This can for example include increasing the investment readiness of women-led ventures, and providing deal flow for gender lens investors.

We can also do it indirectly by influencing the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in our respective regions to consider gender within their activities, whether it’s our government’s policies or our investors’ investment theses, to promote larger-scale change.

What does it mean that ygap has been involved in this work?

It was important for this toolkit to be developed by intermediaries for intermediaries, for it to be truly valuable and practical. At ygap we recognise the importance of considering gender within our work as an intermediary as a key way for us to achieve our impact goals. We also see gender equality as a fundamental human right, and this is why we saw value in developing the GLIA toolkit. It is a first of its kind resource, that we hope can start supporting intermediaries in being deliberate about considering gender within their work. 

At ygap, being deliberate about applying a gender lens to our work is what led us to create the yher program, an accelerator program that champions women-led impact ventures and adapts our proven curriculum to meet the specific needs of women founders. We developed the GLIA toolkit as part of DFAT Innovation Xchange’s Frontier Incubators program, in partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s Asia Women’s Fund. It was developed over a 12 month period and was extensively tested by incubators and accelerators (see here) to refine and validate its content.

We look forward to seeing how this work is embraced and used by the sector going forward.

Access the GLIA Toolkit

Building Bridges report- addressing the barriers faced by Refugee Entrepreneurs

Building Bridges Report - Addressing the barriers faced by refugee entrepreneurs

Supporting Refugee Entrepreneurs in the Victorian Start-Up Ecosystem

In 2019, the ygap Australia team was commissioned by LaunchVic to compile a report addressing the barriers facing refugee entrepreneurs in accessing support networks and resources in the Victorian ecosytem.

From this co-designed research and our work with diverse communities, we know that one of the big challenges is that there is not enough support, especially in the idea and validate stages, for migrant and refugee entrepreneurs.

And because at ygap we are all about solutions, we are extremely proud to present this report just after our launch of the First Gens 2.0 pre-accelerator in partnership with Catalysr and funded by Launch Vic which has been developed to bridge the gap between the ideation, validation and growth phases for migrant and refugee enterprises so that they can grow and thrive in the ecosystem.

Read our Building Bridges report here by following the link below:

Read the Report