icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Women's Entrepreneurship

A Peruvian woman with decorative red paint streaked across her cheeks stands behind a counter with a young man. She is pressing buttons on a calculator while talking. In front of them, an open notebook lies on the counter.

Women's Entrepreneurship (WE) at CARE aims to improve financial security and economic empowerment for 3 million entrepreneurs and employees, reach 30 million people, and mobilize more than $500m USD in private capital by 2030.

Our target

Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) are the economic backbone of most economies worldwide, yet they remain disproportionately unserved or underserved by financial and non-financial service providers. For women entrepreneurs, access to finance is a major barrier and the finance gap for women globally is estimated at $1.7 trillion USD. Women also face harmful gender norms, restricted digital access, a lack of education and skills, and lack a supportive environment.

CARE’s Women’s Entrepreneurship programming aims to reduce those barriers. We focus on growth-oriented businesses, the majority of which typically have two to ten employees and have been in business for more than two years. By building the capacity of growth entrepreneurs, they in turn can employ more people – mostly women – in their local communities, helping to lift them out of poverty. These growth entrepreneurs are becoming trailblazers for other women in their communities, including their own staff, demonstrating the power and potential of women in business.

Our model

CARE’s entrepreneurship and financial inclusion programming offers a combination of services – both financial and non-financial – that are essential to creating sustainable growth and empowerment for women entrepreneurs. Our market-based approach – working with local financial service providers – ensures that the products and services supporting these entrepreneurs are both sustainable and scalable in the long-term and puts women at the center.


Growing Women-Led Micro and Small Businesses: A Holistic Package of Services

Increase Access to Tailored Finance

Increased loan sizes.

Flexible repayment terms and reduced collateral requirements.

Alternate digital delivery channels.

Adapted marketing materials and promotional channels.

Shift Social Norms

Challenging prohibitive credit requirements.

Tackling mobility and unpaid care issues.

Engaging men and households to support women.

Large-scale outreach campaigns.

Provide Critical Support Services

Financial education tailored for women.

Capacity and business skills building.

Ongoing coaching, mentoring, and support networks.

Address the Gender Digital Divide

Adapting/promoting women-centered digital solutions.

Building digital capacity and skills.

Promoting digital tools and financial services.

Impact Metrics

Unlock Loan Capital

$90M+ USD in loans disbursed through partners to micro and small businesses, majority of which are women-led, in eighteen months.

Improved Financial Resilience and Increased Women’s Economic Empowerment 

8M+ entrepreneurs, households, and communities reached through campaigns.

200,000+ entrepreneurs have received loans, digital financial services, training, or critical support services .

Partnerships with Financial Service Providers

92 financial service providers have partnered with CARE in the last decade to deliver savings accounts, loans, digital financial services, insurance, payment solutions.

Our programs

Strive Women

Strive Women, a four-year program led by CARE and supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, strengthens the financial health of women-led small businesses in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam.

Read More

Ignite Program

In partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, CARE’s Ignite Program unleashes the power of growth-oriented entrepreneurs to contribute to resilient, inclusive economies.

Read More

Improving Private Sector Competitiveness for Women-Led Small and Growing Businesses

CARE has been brought on by USAID to lead a gender and social inclusion (GESI) assessment to inform the project’s GESI strategy and design products and services built off of deep insights into women-led small and growing businesses.

Read More

Strive Czechia

Strive Czechia unleashes the power of Micro and Small Enterprises in the Czech Republic to succeed in the digital economy.

Read More

Thought leadership


Three women entrepreneurs fighting for survival… and winning

The global pandemic has pushed many small businesses to collapse. For women entrepreneurs, the impact has been significantly worse as childcare responsibilities increased, supply chains collapsed, a dependency on digital skills went up, and women were forced to fight for survival. Read More

Read more

Why putting women in charge of their own financial security pays dividends

Women-centered design acknowledges that women’s needs and the barriers they face are fundamentally different to men.  Barriers might include laws and political systems that disadvantage women, harmful gender and social norms, and limited access to finance due to no credit history or collateral, male guarantor requirements, or restrictions on land ownership. Read More

Read more

Three Steps the Female Digital Revolution Can’t Succeed Without

In 2020, millions of women left the workforce. As the pandemic accelerates the move toward a digital economy, women are at risk of being left behind. Read More

Read more

Want to learn more?

Contact us at entrepreneurship@care.org.