The WE!Fund pipeline project is the result of a unique partnership between an independent fund, called WE!, and UNCDF. This fund provides equity and loans to medium sized enterprises with a focus on women’s empowerment (WE) by targeting businesses with female workforces, female entrepreneurs, and women’s cooperatives. To qualify for funding from WE!, enterprises are assessed via the WE Index which measures to what extent the company impacts gender. If the company does meet the WE Index standards for gender impact, technical support is available to help the applicant reach the target and qualify for funding. Through this work on women’s empowerment and economic development, UNCDF has contributed to the domestic financial sector, raised awareness of SDGs, and advanced SDG targets.

Every project has a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Broadly, the main challenge encountered in the WE!Fund pipeline project was to support enterprises in creating proposals that met gender impact and financial criteria to qualify for funding. It took one year to find the right projects, assess them, and start the investment process. The challenge we are now facing is to find additional funding to ensure long-term sustainability and impact. We are addressing the long-term financing challenge by developing a resource mobilization strategy to capitalize the fund. This strategy will help secure a steady stream of revenue for the fund and ensure that local businesses can continue to receive support.

UNCDF’s business model helps domestic banks, financial intuitions, and funds invest with purpose through the development of adequate instruments and de-risking projects. Thanks to its impactful work in inclusive, economic development across the globe, UNCDF has gained a central role in the Financing for Development (FFD) agenda.