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Women and Social Enterprises: How Gender Integration Can Boost Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty_i

Acumen and The International Center for Research on Women Call for Greater Gender Integration in Social Enterprises with New Report

Acumen and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) released a report today to encourage entrepreneurs, impact investors and philanthropists to consider new strategies for promoting gender equality through social enterprise. Produced in partnership with the Cartier Charitable Foundation, Women and Social Enterprises: How Gender Integration can Boost Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty reveals findings from several case studies from Acumen’s portfolio of investments, which demonstrate how social enterprises are engaging and impacting women and where they fall short.

While the topic of “gender lens investing” is not new, few efforts have been made to focus on the role it plays within inclusive businesses like social enterprises. “While businesses in developing countries are increasingly waking up to the power of gender integration, our own experience has revealed just how little research has been done to reveal the full potential of women as participants within the social enterprise sector and as customers within low-income populations,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen.

“There needs to be a greater focus on the nexus of gender and investment within the social enterprise sector,” said Allison Glinski, Gender and Evaluation Specialist at ICRW. “More and more, we’re seeing the tangible rewards a company gains when they commit to integrating women across the entire value chain—from engaging female investors to placing women in management positions within the company.”

The three collaborating organizations will launch the report at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society this week in Deauville, France, where representatives will share key findings. At the crux of the report is a framework of five domains for integrating gender into inclusive business processes and a self-assessment tool that social enterprises can use to evaluate existing strengths and areas for growth related to gender in their business models.

Women and Social Enterprises calls for a shift in how the social impact sector can boost entrepreneurial solutions to poverty and bring about greater equality among market-based approaches to create inclusivity.

“Is the ‘social change industry’ giving gender equity the attention and investment it deserves? Could it become a catalyst for gender integration in their value chain? These are questions that prompted us to support this study,” said Pascale de la Frégonnière, Executive Director of the Cartier Charitable Foundation. “Additional gender statistics are needed to track performances but any research such as this one is a very good step towards getting valuable insights to foster robust social change.”

About Acumen

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $88 million in 82 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. This year, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at and on Twitter @Acumen.

About ICRW

For nearly 40 years, ICRW has been the premier applied research institute focused on women and girls. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in South Asia and Africa, ICRW provides evidence-based research to inform programs and policies that help alleviate poverty, promote gender equality and protect the rights of women and girls. Learn more at

About Cartier Charitable Foundation

Created to catalyse the Maison Cartier’s philanthropic commitment to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, the Cartier Charitable Foundation focuses on the most excluded and marginalized, in particular women and children living in the world’s least developed regions. We work to remove the barriers that prevent people from acting and thriving enabling them to live a meaningful and fulfilling life in an inclusive, equitable and safe environment. The Foundation currently supports 17 partners in 28 developing countries.


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