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