Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Gender in Your Ecosystem

As intermediaries, incubators and accelerators work directly and deeply with entrepreneurs as well as the ecosystem that supports them. This places you in a unique position of power to influence positive, inclusive change. to guide and influence and inform other actors within that ecosystem about the value of gender-diversity and inclusivity in entrepreneurship.


This section explores the ways in which you can engage with funders, mentors and government on ideas around gender, diversity and inclusivity.

Engaging Mentors

Mentors can play a critical role in supporting enterprises to grow and scale their enterprise beyond the support that intermediaries provide via their accelerator or incubator program. They can provide deep, long-term support to help ventures succeed.

If you want to engage mentors in a way that promotes gender-inclusivity, you might want to:

1. Ensure that the mentor pool is gender diverse to reflect the various needs of the founders and bring rich and varied expertise.

2. Develop clear policies articulating what is and what is not acceptable in a mentor/mentee relationship.

3. Create a Code of conduct for full transparency and accountability for both parties.

4. Be deliberate about encouraging a peer relationship between mentors and mentees to disrupt any negative power dynamics that may arise.


Before matching mentors with entrepreneurs, it is always wise to first develop an in-depth understanding of the entrepreneur’s needs and their perception of working with different genders.

This will help you to understand which mentor matches are likely to work, and why.

Engaging Funders and Investors

Financial sustainability of their company or organisation is key for intermediaries and enterprises to survive. They work at the heart of the impact so know the best option for where the funds should be spent to generate the greatest social impact.

Funders and investors play a key role within the ecosystem in enabling the growth of both intermediaries and early-stage entrepreneurial ventures, especially in their early years. If desired, funders and investors can use their funds in an innovative way to achieve gender inclusivity and equality.

If you want to engage funders and investors in a way that promotes gender-inclusivity, you might want to:

1. Invite funders to meet ventures face-to-face to help them to understand why particular criteria used to make funding decisions is needed while some other criteria may not be.

2. Adopt a disciplined approach to measure against ‘gender’ metrics and report on them regularly to create an evidence base and inform future funding decisions.

3. Create robust criteria and scorecard that aligns with an investment thesis and includes a gender lens.

Practical Tip

If developing an investment thesis, try and work beyond things like gender quotas and see the value of directing funding to marginalised groups or how the support can create impact beyond simply the financial contribution.

e.g. funding more women-led ventures, by virtue, will support the creation of more employment for women thus increasing the income earned by a woman.

Engaging Government

Government is likely critical stakeholders within the social enterprise ecosystem and their policies have the potential to support or hinder the business outcomes of intermediaries and entrepreneurs.

If you want to engage governments in a way that promotes gender-inclusivity, you might want to:

1. Collect financial return and social impact return data to demonstrate the impact of the work for which you are seeking government support.

2. Use data relating to gender and increased financial and impact returns to influence policy and funding decisions.

3. Gain support from and collaborate with partner organisations to present a variety of public and private-sector perspectives that support your collective position.

Practical Tip

Create a working group with other intermediaries and partner organisations to lobby for particular changes.

The voice from a  group of intermediaries and stakeholders will always stronger than from a single organisation.

  • The best way to influence Government Policy or funding decisions is to show the positive impact on the social outcomes or economy from the initiatives proposed

    In addition, the work needs to align with key Government priority areas.


Virtual Convening Strategy

Don’t just convene for the sake of convening, have a clear strategy and purpose to have the greatest success