13 August 2018 | Report

Investing in Women: Early stage Investment models


The report, published by Investing in Women partners Ernst & Young, 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. The analysis considers which approaches may be preferred by women’s SMEs.


Investing in Women focuses on catalysing investment towards women’s SMEs that are in the early and growth stages of the business life cycle. The report outlines that the most appropriate funding models for SMEs in these stages are:

  • Venture capitalists: private equity that is provided by firms to small, early-stage, emerging businesses that are deemed to have high growth potential, in exchange for ownership stake in the company.
  • Impact investors: investors who invest in entities in order to generate measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The report finds that there are currently few known early stage accelerator models that solely focus on addressing the lack of financing available to women’s SMEs. Of these, the models most effective at facilitating investment capital to women’s SMEs are:


The Golden Seed:


  • early-stage investment firm that backs women-led companies across diverse sectors.
  • looks at whether the female entrepreneur (founder, CEO or other C-level role) has influence on the company and is an owner.
  • conducts accelerator programs with businesses it may then invest in (investments are solely gender lens focused).
  • companies are actively vetted, coached and advised by Golden Seeds’ network and are offered an environment in which the women’s SMEs receive capital and connections to grow and successfully exit.
  • aims to achieve market returns for investors whilst creating lasting social impact.


Village Capital:


  • trains and invests in social entrepreneurs who are involved in solving problems in two key areas: i) access to opportunity for underserved communities and ii) resource sustainability.
  • involves selecting 10-12 entrepreneurs to undergo a business development program as well as providing them with opportunities to build relationships with mentors, customers, stakeholders and investors.
  • At the conclusion of each program, the cohort of entrepreneurs in the program determine the entrepreneurs to receive seed capital from Village Capital and co-investors.




  • Foreward
  • Early stage business financing gap
  • Early stage investment incubators and accelerators
  • Early stage investment models
  • Other gender lens accelerator models
  • Traditional investment vs accelerator models for women’s SMEs

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