Apply Now: $1.5 Million for Women’s Digital Economic Empowerment

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Today, 1.7 billion women in low- and middle-income countries still do not own mobile phones. For example, in India, 67% of men own mobile phones, but only 33% percent of women do. In addition, the Internet user gender gap is more than 40% in some countries.
While the mobile phone gender gap matters in its own right, it is particularly problematic because it can exacerbate other important forms of inequality – in earnings, networking opportunities, and access to information. Advancing women’s digital connectivity is key to promoting their empowerment in an increasingly digital world.
2019 WomenConnect Challenge (Updated!)
The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity program has launched $1.5 million in new grant funding for the WomenConnect Challenge. Led by USAID, the Challenge seeks to bridge the gender digital divide so women can participate fully in the global economy.
The Challenge will award three grants ranging from $500,000-$1,000,000 that can be invested over two years in the target program. All applications must focus on a USAID presence country.
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Applicants must propose global solutions that empower women and girls to have access to, and use, digital technology to advance three overarching pillars:

  • Women prospering in the workforce;
  • Women succeeding as entrepreneurs;
  • Women enabled in the economy by removing restrictive legal, regulatory and cultural barriers.

Per the Grand Funding RFA, and the new Modification 2, applicants should focus on one of these pillars in their application to be successful in their request for financial support.
Apply Now: Deadline is August 6, 2019
Women Prospering in the Workforce Applicants will:

  • Focus on sustainable, scalable, and equitable vocational skills building through digital platforms that support the kinds of technology most poor women have access to, which include feature phones, community-based technology, and relevant social networks
  • Demonstrate that the application will reach extremely resource-constrained women where they are – that is, a solution that fits these women’s lives and understands how to recruit and retain illiterate/low-literate women with little to no disposable income. This is key – women should not be inconvenienced or expend financial resources or put themselves in potentially harmful situations to participate in the program
  • Measure the impact that the proposed solution has on women’s workforce opportunities. For example, number of women reached, upskilled, and/or placed into formal economy opportunities

Women Succeeding as Entrepreneurs Applicants will:

  • Focus on challenges specific to women’s entry into sustainable market systems, including inventory access and management, access to credit, logistics, market growth and marketing, and other challenges unique to women entrepreneurs at the lowest level of the socio-economic rung. Solutions will challenge traditional value- and supply chains by offering novel technology- based alternatives to empower women with low literacy, poor resource bases, and high vulnerability contexts
  • Identify promising innovative digital technologies to support women entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid beyond traditional Digital Financial Services/Digital Financial Inclusion programs
  • Measure the impact that the proposed solution has on women’s entrepreneurial opportunities. For example, number of new entrepreneurial efforts, changes in income generation, changes in market growth, or access to additional financial opportunities

Women Enabled in the Economy Applicants will:

  • Explore the conditions under which restrictive communities will let women use technology, and build on these opportunities
  • Target policies that discriminate against women, and/or prevent women from accessing and using technology, and work to change these
  • Create new social norms for women through their adoption and use of technology, challenging restrictive gender roles
  • Identify/develop technologies and policies that can significantly help address the gender digital divide
  • Demonstrate how technology increases women’s agency, and measure the impact of the proposed solution on individual women, households, and the community

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