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

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

The Catalytic Capital for Women’s Economic Empowerment Report is part of an external review of the Investing in Women initiative (IW), funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Carried out during July and August 2018, the report summaries the findings and recommendations around Component 2 (C2) on impact investing, comprising interviews with some 30 key stakeholders and analysis of more than 100 documents.

The report finds that the first phase of Component 2 of the Investing in Women initiative has been very successful. Through this work, IW and DFAT have played leadership roles in increasing capital flows to WSMEs and promoting gender lens investing.


  • Overall, the review team found that Phase 1 of Component 2 has been appropriately designed and successfully implemented to date. In fact, the Component’s commitment to investing in women-owned and women-led small and medium-sized enterprises and gender-lens investing is deep, innovative and unrivalled internationally. Through its performance-based partnerships with four impact investors, and engagement of leading champions of gender-lens investing in market-building, C2 is making good progress towards its intermediate end-of program outcomes.
  • The accomplishments of Component 2 to date include, testing and refining a grant-based model to incentivise gender-lens investing by investment partners, facilitating an internal strengthening of gender-lens investing 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.
  • In light of these and other findings, the review team recommends that IW and DFAT proceed to a Phase 2 of Component 2. The focus of Phase 2 should be on demonstrating the commercial business case for investing in women’s small to medium enterprises and in engaging with impact investors and partners based in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam and in Asia more broadly.


  • 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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