At Youth Co:Lab, an initiative co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, we are particularly focused on the vital contributions that young female entrepreneurs make to their communities and societies in Asia-Pacific, and how we can step up efforts to make entrepreneurship ecosystems gender-equal.

Entrepreneurship is a powerful catalyst. It provides women the opportunity to achieve economic independence and improve their wellbeing, as well as that of their families and communities. When women control productive assets and lead economic activities, productivity increases, poverty and inequality reduce, investments into health and education grow, and solutions to development challenges are unlocked. As leaders, female entrepreneurs not only shift gender norms, but also drive systemic social change.

Young women in Asia-Pacific, however, face particularly significant barriers that constrain their access to entrepreneurship. These barriers include discriminatory gender norms, a high unpaid care burden, limited access to assets, markets, and opportunities, and gender-blind policies and laws. The challenges that young female entrepreneurs face have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Youth Co:Lab and UNDP’s Gender team heard from young female founders in Asia-Pacific on barriers they have faced and support they have benefited from, and from partners on solutions to make entrepreneurship ecosystems gender-inclusive.

Based on the insights shared at the event and lessons from Youth Co:Lab programming, we have found that when it comes to direct support, young female entrepreneurs can benefit particularly from:

  • Access to relatable role models and mentors.
  • Affirmative access to investment, knowledge, and networks.
  • Peer networks providing support and learning

Read the full article about female entrepreneurs by Marte Hellema at avpn.