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100 x 100 Challenge: Unlocking US$100 million for 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Asia and the Pacific

The case for investing in women’s economic empowerment is compelling. In Asia and the Pacific, like elsewhere, entrepreneurship is one of the main pathways for women’s economic empowerment and equality, which can in turn have a ‘multiplier effect’ on family well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. Yet women’s entrepreneurship is hindered by numerous challenges, including structural and regulatory barriers, lack of access to finance and Information Communication Technology(ICT) tools for business development.

Innovation at the intersection of technology and finance is emerging as a potential game-changer for catalyzing women’s entrepreneurship. The SDG Acceleration Action will provide innovative financing along with ICT tools and policy mechanisms, for supporting women entrepreneurs. Through mechanisms such as fintech fund, women’s bond and impact investment, the initiative aims to unlock an additional US$100 million in public and private financing for women-owned or women-led enterprises. Furthermore, the SDG Acceleration Action will leverage its convening power to bring together Governments in the Asia and Pacific region to scale up effective and innovate solutions in reducing legal and regulatory barriers to empowering women entrepreneurs. The success will be replicated at national, sub-regional and regional levels to create new economic opportunities for millions of women in the Asia-Pacific region.

Expected impact

Catalyzing women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment will accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. More than 100,000 women entrepreneurs will directly benefit from improved regulatory and legal environment at the national and regional level, innovative financing mechanisms and digital solutions. Through a specially developed fintech fund, women’s bond and impact investment funds, public and private sector funding will be leveraged in the amount of US$100 million to invest in women entrepreneurs.

Micro entrepreneurs who are unable to access banking services due to constraints such as lack of collateral and banking history would be able to access financial services; women who run small and medium-sized enterprises would be supported to accelerate their business growth with enhanced access to transformative technology and larger capital. At least one million additional beneficiaries, including women working along the value chain and family and communities will be uplifted from poverty. In addition, women’s increased income, consumption and investment in education, health and other services would contribute to poverty reduction, as well as sustained and inclusive economic growth in the region.

Therefore, this regional initiative will impact on multiple SDGs, including:
SDG 1 on ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (target 1.4);
SDG 4 on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all (Target 4.4);
SDG 8 on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth (Target 8.3, 8.5);
SDG 10 on reducing inequalities within and among countries (Target 10.2, 10.3);
SDG 17 on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development (Target 17.3, 17.8).


Goal 1
Goal 4
Goal 8
Goal 10
Goal 17
Staff / Technical expertise
Senior staff from the UNESCAP providing technical and managerial guidance in achieving the accelerated action
Financing (in USD)
Basic information
Start: 01 June, 2018
Completion: 01 June, 2026
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) (United Nations / Multilateral body)
Government of Canada, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Government, Civil Society and Private Sector
Initiative focused on COVID-19 pandemic response, prevention and recovery efforts
Not specified
Geographical coverage
Asia and Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Primary beneficiaries are women entrepreneurs from target countries
Contact information
Cai Cai, Chief of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Section, caic@un.org,
Bangkok, Thailand
United Nations