i3 is Committed to Supporting Women-led Startups & Gender Transformation

Research has shown that women-led technology firms face inequities in access to funding and support globally1.

Women entrepreneurs seeking funds and support face gender biases, are perceived as less skilled, experience greater scrutiny and are more likely to be undervalued. In addition, more than 82% of global investors are men, and prospect identification, networking, mentorship, and due diligence processes have largely been designed by men for male investors and entrepreneurs2,3. In Africa specifically, data indicate that only about 10% of companies are founded solely by a woman / women, and very few of them have received any form of grant funding4.

The i3 program recognizes the structural constraints impacting women-led health tech startups and is working to understand the issues, challenge gender norms and promote women’s position and influence in the ecosystem.

Fundamentally, we aim to ensure the participation and support of women-led companies in the program as a means to transfer resources, networks and knowledge to women leaders. We define a women-led company as a business with a woman/women with long-term control and management of the business, an equity stake, and an active role in both strategic and day-to-day decision-making. Our key target is to ensure that more than 33% of selected companies are women-led.

We realize we can’t be gender inclusive, if the project team doesn’t walk-the-talk. Thus, we’ve aimed to be gender inclusive at every level. To date this looks like:

  • 75% of the program coordination team are women
  • 46% of the members of the regional selection committees are women
  • 30% of the steering committee is comprised of women

We recognize that shifting representation to ensure women are in the room is just a first step in shifting systems of power. Thus, the I3 consortium is committed to actively learning how we can deconstruct our own gender biases, and better use our resources, networks and time to advance gender equity – and thus impact. We are committed to learning and adjusting as we go.

Gender transformation is a long-term goal, but the work starts now! Feedback, advice, and guidance is most welcome.

1 Jordan Rubio and Priyamvada Mathur, “An Exceptional Year for Female Founders Still Means a Sliver of VC Funding,” PitchBook, News & Analysis, January 10, 2022. https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/female-founders-dashboard-2021-vc-funding-wrap-up.

2 Tage Kene-Okafor, “6 African Women CEOs Discuss How They Raised More Than $1M in 2021,” TechCrunch, March 15, 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/15/6-african-women-ceos-discuss-how-they-raised-more-than-1m-in-2021/

3 Suzanne Biegel, and Isis Nyong'o Madison, “Five Ways to Advance Gender Lens Investing in Africa,” Wharton Social Impact Initiative, May 3, 2017, https://socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu/news/five-ways-advance-gender-lens-investing-africa/.

4 Digitizing Health Product Distribution: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya & Uganda. Market Intelligence Report.  Salient Advisory, June 2022. https://healthtech.salientadvisory.com/reports/innovations-in-digitizing-distribution-of-health-products-2022/

Share this post