13 August 2018 | Report

Investing in Women: Early stage Investment models

Gender Lens Investing


This report introduces investment models used to invest in small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with focus on approaches preferred by women’s SMEs. It aims to provide an overview of the types of early-stage investors, the differences between incubators and accelerators and various investment models that are used to invest in SMEs.

It discusses the gap in access to capital that prevents women’s SMEs to succeed and the role and characteristics of early-stage investment incubators and accelerators in bridging this gap. It examinees early stage investment models, especially those that focus specifically on women’s SMEs such as Village Capital, Y Combinator, Golden Seed Venture Capital Model, traditional venture capital and crowd funding. As well as accelerator models, such as SheEo and Springboard.

Further, it provides an analysis of most effective models to support women’s SMEs.

This report was developed by Ernst & Young with support from Investing in Women.


  • Incubators and accelerators enhance SMEs ability to access financing by developing the SMEs business acumen as well as connecting them with investors.
  • There are currently few known early stage accelerator models that solely focus on addressing the lack of financing available to women’s SMEs.
  • Of the key early stage investment / accelerator models examined, the Golden Seed and Village Capital Model are considered to be the most effective at facilitating investment capital to women’s SMEs.

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