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Published by: "Independent Reviewers (December 2018)"

Country / Region: Indonesia , Philippines , Vietnam , Regional/global

Catalytic Capital for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Report of the External Review of Component 2 of the Investing in Women Initiative

06 February 2019

This report summarises the findings of the external review of Component 2 (C2) on impact investing of the Investing in Women Initiative (IW) funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The C2 review team has found that Component 2 of Investing in Women has been highly catalytic in its use of capital in Phase 1—with the ultimate aim of boosting women’s economic empowerment. It has deployed its funding in strategic and creative ways that leverage the investments of C2’s partners and other stakeholders to directly empower women entrepreneurs while progressively building the business case and ecosystem for closing financing gap for women-owned businesses in its three programming countries.

This report has also set out recommendations to inform the design and the activities of Phase 2 of the component. In general, the review team recommends that the design of Phase 2 should be based on the following priorities: 1) mobilise catalytic capital, especially Asian capital, for direct market interventions as well as the ecosystem-building needed for sustainable GLI; 2) build the business case using component successes to date to show early indications of commercial viability and learning; 3) lead by example in human resource policies and GLI reporting, to demonstrate the IW journey for partners, investees and supporters; 4) maintain the focussed GLI definition of investing in WSMEs while supporting the adaptations of IIPs and diverse perspectives in the broader ecosystem; 5) achieve thought leadership through the production and dissemination of new knowledge products (e.g. case studies, tip sheets), particularly documenting and reinforcing the business case; and 6) continue to create an enabling environment by leveraging strengths and experiences of all partners and advisors.

The accomplishments of Component 2 to date—which include include, testing and refining a grant-based model to incentivise GLI by investment partners, facilitating an internal strengthening of GLI capacity by impact investing partners, animating an ecosystem-building process in the region and globally, and achieving early significant leverage on private-sector capital in Phase 1 by C2 and its partners—show that IW and DFAT have played leadership roles in increasing capital flows to WSMEs and promoting gender lens investing. Therefore, the outlook for continued success by C2 in demonstrating the business case for investing in WSMEs, and advancing women’s economic empowerment, in Southeast Asia is very positive.


  • Executive Summary
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Introduction
  • Progress toward Intermediate and End of Program Outcomes
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of program management
  • Sustainability of the Program
  • Directions for Phase 2
  • General recommendations
  • Detailed recommendations
  • Conclusion
  • Annex A: Documents reviewed
  • Annex B: Persons consulted
  • Annex C: Theory of Change table
  • Annex D: Additional background information
  • Annex E: Stakeholder workshop

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