The Sasakawa Peace Foundation announces support for women entrepreneurs in the Philippines and Myanmar through the WE Rise Community Asia platform
December 24, 2021
On December 21 2021, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) released
a press release to announce the winners of the Gender Equality Action lab, a global collective impact initiative, supported by USAID, focused on elevating small and growing businesses (SGBs) as contributors to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.
WE Rise Community Asia is the winning project from the ANDE East and South East Asia Gender Equality Action Lab, involving 16 leading organizations promoting women’s economic empowerment in Asia.
WE Rise Community Asia will contribute to addressing the financing gap for women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and provide a safe space for women entrepreneurs to learn and share with peers and experts through community activities. The online platform will deliver self-paced virtual learning curriculum on the basics of finance and investment readiness and create a virtual resource hub including a loan product search tool to identify capital sources in the Philippines and Myanmar. WE Rise Community Asia will also connect investors, banks, and financial institutions with women entrepreneurs.
“The ANDE Gender Equality Action Lab was a unique opportunity for practitioners and experts from Asia to work together to address systemic barriers faced by women entrepreneurs in the region. Over a 13 month collaborative co-design and prototyping process, we are pleased to see WE Rise Community Asia selected as the winning proposal for East and Southeast Asia. SPF is delighted to partner with leading organizations in the Philippines and Myanmar to take WE Rise Community Asia to the next stage. We hope WE Rise Community Asia will provide opportunities for more women entrepreneurs to gain access to finance, technical assistance and digitalization support to navigate the challenges of growing a business amid a global pandemic” said Ayaka Matsuno, Director of the Gender Investment and Innovation Department at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
"We’re excited by innovative approaches developed through ANDE’s Gender Equality Action Lab to address systems-level challenges for women entrepreneurs to achieve SDG # 5. We look forward to sharing important insights about the impact of these initiatives through our Gender Learning Community,” said ANDE’s East and Southeast Asia Chapter Head, Fai Wechayachai.
The WE Rise Community Asia’s development will be led by Villgro and SanThit, with collaboration from the Impact Pioneers network, the Manila Angel Investors Network Inc. (MAIN), and Myanmar Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (MPE&VCA).
SPF aims to support all five local partners to contribute to advancing women’s entrepreneurship in the Philippines and Myanmar through WE Rise Community Asia from January 2022 onwards. Please see the descriptions below for more information on our partners.
Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that propel entrepreneurship in developing economies. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.
As the leading global voice of the SGB sector, ANDE believes that SGBs are a powerful, yet underleveraged tool in addressing social and environmental challenges. Since 2009, we have grown into a trusted network of nearly 300 collaborative members that operate in nearly every developing economy. ANDE grows the body of knowledge, mobilizes resources, and connects the institutions that support the small business entrepreneurs who build inclusive prosperity in the developing world.
ANDE is part of the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society.
Villgro funds, mentors, and supports for-profit social enterprises that are building innovative solutions to impact the lives of the poor in the Philippines. Villgro Philippines is a women-owned and led gender smart incubator that provides intensive incubation through customized venture building support, in-depth mentoring, connections to relevant networks, and access to follow-on funding to high potential enterprises through its various initiatives. Villgro's ecosystem building initiatives are combination of knowledge sessions and networking events to create opportunities for seeking out and nurturing entrepreneurs and connecting people passionate about creating impact.
SanThit Accelerator is Myanmar's first gender-smart accelerator helping nurture and encourage founders to grow impactful startups in Myanmar. Inclusively designed, each year SanThit's program leverages diagnostics, online self-paced learning, taught curriculum and then three rounds of direct, structured support to startup founders alongside increasing amounts of capital. SanThit was founded by EME Myanmar in partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and Village Capital. Combined, SanThit benefits from leading experience supporting Myanmar founders, a world-renowned curriculum and an inclusive and innovative gender lens.
Impact Pioneers Network
Impact Pioneers Network is a first-of-its-kind gender smart impact investing network in the Philippines jointly managed by Villgro Philippines and xchange. The Network aims to catalyze capital among local investors to support the growth of high-potential impact enterprises solving the most pressing social and environmental challenges. With its virtual impact investment platform, the Network aims to bring together key stakeholders in the impact investment ecosystem, build a resource hub and provide access to technical assistance to impact entrepreneurs. Through its mission of funding 100 impact enterprises in the next five years, Impact Pioneers Network hopes to build a more resilient, inclusive, and equitable Philippines.
Manila Angel Investors Network Inc. (MAIN)
MAIN is the largest committed private investors network in the Philippines that was formed to support the country’s startup ecosystem by connecting investors with promising early-stage companies. Apart from providing capital funding, it also mentors entrepreneurs, provides expertise support, and opens networking opportunities. This innovative startup ecosystem will benefit both MAIN members’ portfolio and overall growth of Filipino startups. MAIN is a non-stock, non-profit corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Corporation Code of the Philippines.
MAIN embarked on Gender Lens Investing through the four year partnership with Investing in Women, an Australian Aid program. The project aims to provide catalytic investment capital for women-owned and women-led SMEs in the Philippines, diversify the angel membership to include more women investors, and expand their member services and activities. The project also aims to leverage investment readiness for women entrepreneurs and provides post-investment support to scale their businesses. From an angel investor network founded by all men to bringing on board women angels and investing in women-SMEs, follow MAINs remarkable journey on embracing #GenderLensInvesting in this case study.
Myanmar Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (MPE&VCA)
The Myanmar Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (MPE&VCA) is an independent, non-profit membership organisation incorporated in May 2019. The association includes the leading private equity and venture capital firms operating in Myanmar, each of which has extensive experience working within Asia. These institutions have come together to highlight the importance of venture capital and private equity to the economy in support of entrepreneurship, innovation and overall economic development. MPE&VCA aims to provide a forum where the importance of venture capital and private equity can be discussed and shared amongst its members, and can then be used to benefit all industries across the Myanmar market.