Archived Webinar

Gender Learning 2021 - Nuts and Bolts of Working with Fund Managers, Incubators and Ecosystem Players to Increase Investment into WSMES: Lessons from the WBG We-Fi Program

"How to structure work with incubators and accelerators to promote a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem for Women SMEs?"

The World Bank and IFC We-Fi teams and partners share lessons learned from We-Fi’s first two years of operations, drawing on specific activities of the WBG We-Fi programs. The focus is on innovations and early results. The speakers showcase the tools and resources available that are supporting women entrepreneurs to navigate the economy and create opportunities to strengthen women’s economic empowerment. The teams also share lessons from adapting the activities in response to COVID.

The session highlights lessons learned, in particular, related to the Strengthening Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Early Stage Finance activities. The panel discusses how World Bank and IFC teams collaborated to support Women SMEs through complementary public and private sector interventions at three different levels: identifying and lifting upstream policy and regulatory restrictions; providing capacity building to local intermediaries such as incubators and accelerators; and investing in those intermediaries that hold the most promise in supporting final beneficiaries.

The discussion focuses on the following questions: What solutions have been developed/implemented and how can they be expanded through other WBG operations? How has COVID impacted the WBG We-Fi Program and what can we learn from the experience? What was done well and what could improve?

About the Presenters

Caren Grown

Senior Director, Gender, World Bank Group

Caren Grown joined the World Bank Group in 2014 as Global Director, Gender, where she leads collaboration across the IBRD and IFC and with development partners to generate evidence on what boosts gender equality and to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to close the gaps between men and women. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Dr. Grown was Economist-In-Residence and Co-Director of the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University in Washington, D.C. Over the course of her career, Dr. Grown has held senior positions in several organizations, including as Senior Gender Advisor at USAID where she led the development of the Agency’s Gender Equality policy, and the UNU-WIDER program on aid effectiveness and gender equality. Dr. Grown’s publications include Taxation and Gender Equity (Routledge 2010), The Feminist Economics of Trade (Routledge 2007), and Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women (Earthscan Press 2005). Her articles have appeared in World Development, Journal of International Development, The Lancet, and Feminist Economics. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Economics from the New School for Social Research and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Wendy Teleki

Head, We-Fi Secretariat, World Bank Group

Wendy Teleki is Head of the We-Fi Secretariat, which is housed in the World Bank Group. The Secretariat is responsible for supporting the We-Fi Governing Committee in the allocation and supervision of We-Fi funding as well as communications, advocacy, and learning focused on strengthening opportunities for women entrepreneurs in collaboration with the GC, Implementing Partners, and other stakeholders. Ms. Teleki joined We-Fi in May 2019. Prior to that, Ms. Teleki worked with the International Finance Corporation leading numerous activities and initiatives focused on small and medium enterprise development in emerging markets around the world. This included several blended finance, investment, and advisory programs, including IFC’s We-Fi program and the Global SME Finance Initiative. Wendy has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Komal Mohindra

Senior Private Sector Specialist, Finance, World Bank Group

Komal Mohindra is a Senior Private Sector Specialist with the World Bank Group's Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice, based in Washington DC. During her over 10 years at the World Bank, Komal has worked on projects to advise client governments and country teams on business environment reforms and strategies for building entrepreneurial ecosystems and improving business outcomes, with a particular focus on supporting women’s businesses. Prior to joining the Bank, Komal worked for eight years with a global professional services firm in London, UK, and in Toronto, Canada where she was an advisor to business clients across all regions, from small owner-managed companies to global multinational enterprises on the Fortune 500. Prior to that, Komal worked for a sub-national Attorney General's office in Canada. Komal is a licensed Barrister and Solicitor in Canada.

Shruti Chandrasekhar

Senior Investment Officer, IFC

Shruti Chandrasekhar is the Head of Startup Catalyst and SME Ventures at the IFC, investing and managing a USD 350+ million program of unlisted closed-end funds across frontier markets with a strong focus on emerging managers and impact. Startup Catalyst is an early-stage venture capital program focused on pre-seed, seed, and early-stage investing and SME Ventures is a private equity investment program focused on providing access to capital for SMEs across frontier markets. Shruti also leads IFC’s gender-focused initiatives across private equity and venture capital and has led some of IFC’s flagship work at the intersection of gender & private equity. In addition, Shruti is experienced at establishing new investment vehicles and serves on the boards and advisory committees of several private equity and venture capital funds and companies. Since 2006, Shruti has been an investor in private equity & venture capital. Prior to the IFC, Shruti was based in California and focused on late-stage venture capital with PremjiInvest, a multi-billion dollar investment office. She has lived and worked in private equity and venture capital in East Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the United States. Prior to her investment career, Shruti was a management consultant at Oliver Wyman. She has an MBA from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a frequent speaker on the topics of private equity and venture capital investment and emerging markets.

Zari Faisal

CEO, Patari Music, Pakistan

Zari Faisal is the current CEO of Patari Music; Pakistan’s biggest audio streaming platform featuring local Pakistani music, poetry, literature, and podcasts. Taking over in April 2020, she has worked on bringing a monetization model for the local market into the platform, and bringing more automation into processes, and worked on Pakistan’s first-ever virtual music festival featuring a line up of 10 of the country’s top upcoming music acts in collaboration with Coca-Cola Pakistan. She comes from a background in e-commerce and has a sustainable, preloved fashion site as an independently run startup ( that scaled by 800x in 2020. She was also one of the winners of Karandaaz Pakistan’s Women’s Entrepreneurship challenge in 2018, and a TEDx speaker in 2017. One of her first career projects was with Sharmeen Obaid and the New York Times for a documentary on Afghan refugee children living in Pakistan. She is currently also involved in consulting on important changes required to scale up the Pakistani startup ecosystem and ease of doing business with the Government of Pakistan in order to truly unlock the e-commerce, technology, and global and local potential of Pakistani startups. Her educational background is from the London School of Economics and The University of Warwick.

Aleksandra Liaplina

Operations Officer, IFC

Aleksandra is an accomplished economist and policy advisor with more than 13 years of exposure in project and corporate finance, strategic consulting, policy, regulatory, and transaction advisory. Aleksandra is currently with the Blended Finance Department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) based in Washington D.C. and she is a Program Lead for the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) which supports women entrepreneurs by scaling up access to financial products and services. Prior to that, she held a variety of positions with the World Bank, the last one as an Advisor to the G20 Finance Track, as well as other international organizations and companies including the United Nations, World Trade Organization and Intel Corporation. She is an author of books and publications surrounding digital development, regional integration, and infrastructure finance. Aleksandra served on the boards of various NGOs including the Fulbright Association. She has a Master’s Degree in International Development Policy from Georgetown University whilst on a Fulbright Scholarship and a second Master’s Degree in Economics from St. Petersburg State University.

Jana Malinska

Program Manager, World Bank

Jana Malinska is the Manager for the World Bank Women Entrepreneurship and Finance Initiative (We-Fi) Program promoting women entrepreneurs through strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems, expanding financial services, and improving the market globally. Jana has over 15 years of experience in business development, international investment, and global partnerships. She has advised governments and business leaders on reforms in over forty countries across five regions. She launched the WB Climate Innovation Network of green technology accelerators and led World Bank engagement on innovation and jobs in the Middle East and North Africa region. Prior to joining the WBG, Jana worked with OECD, PSA Peugeot Citroen and CzechInvest, national investment and business development agency. Jana holds an MSc. from the London School of Economics, MBA from Universite Jean Moulin Lyon III, and an Engineering Degree from University of Economics in Prague.

Hanh Nam Nguyen

Principal Investment Officer, IFC

Hanh Nam Nguyen currently manages IFC’s Global SME Facility and We-Fi Program and is the financial sector lead of IFC’s blended finance department. She started her impact investing career 17 years ago when she joined IFC, leading a number of IFC’s financial infrastructure advisory and bank capacity building programs for a number of years before moving onto investment business where she built up extensive transactional experience in the financial sector across all countries in Asia, with particular focus on financial inclusion – micro finance, women entrepreneurs, digital. She was managing the IFC’s financial sector team for the Mekong region from Vietnam and was leading the IFC’s equity business in Asia from Hong Kong. Prior to IFC, she spent 8 years in financial services sector with a number of international financial institutions including ABN AMRO Bank, KPMG and Japan Leasing Corporation. She holds a Master Degree of Economics from Foreign Trade University in Vietnam.

Meenah Tariq

Consultant, World Bank, Pakistan

Meenah Tariq is part of the World Bank We-Fi Pakistan project. She is a Partner at Karavan Venture Capital, a Middle East-based VC firm looking to invest in early-stage startups in Pakistan. Previously, she was the Head of Strategy and Accelerator at Invest2Innovate Pakistan. Meenah supported hundreds of entrepreneurs since 2015, across a wide variety of industries and geographies. She has been designing and implementing programs to practically support women entrepreneurs, encourage entrepreneurial mindsets in young people, and equip entrepreneurs across the country with the business acumen required to scale high-impact businesses and SMEs, with organizations such as the World Bank, DFID, and the USAID. Meenah also conducts trainings on business creation and scale, mentors a number of startups, and has taught entrepreneurship at local business schools.

Heather Matranga

Senior Director, Strategic Innovation, Village Capital

Heather is the Senior Director of Strategic Innovations at Village Capital, where she identifies and incubates innovative solutions to catalyze more investment into early-stage, high-impact entrepreneurs. She leads the organization's work in identifying new strategies to mitigate bias in investment, including a focus on gender lens investing. Prior to joining the team, Heather worked as an attorney advisor for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she provided legal support to help individuals and state and local governments recover from disasters and acted as an advisor to the FEMA’s deputy administrator. Heather holds a J.D. from SUNY at Buffalo Law School, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and a B.A. in International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Questions Submitted


- Jul 28, 2022


- Jan 18, 2022

Mahaman Mourtala

- Dec 8, 2021


- Jul 15, 2021
Excellent information


- May 9, 2021

jose luis

- May 6, 2021
analiza cómo los equipos del Banco Mundial y la CFI colaboraron para apoyar a las PYMES a través de intervenciones complementarias de los sectores público y privado en tres niveles diferentes: identificación y levantamiento de las restricciones normativas y de políticas ascendentes; proporcionar desarrollo de capacidad a intermediarios locales como incubadoras y aceleradoras; e invertir en los intermediarios más prometedores para apoyar a los beneficiarios finales.

Mohammad Nadir

- Apr 23, 2021

Engr. Babar

- Apr 22, 2021

Lynn Ioana

- Apr 12, 2021
great topic


- Apr 9, 2021
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