In the last five years, women-led startups in Pakistan only raised 3% of the startup ecosystem’s total funding ($192 M). WeRaise is a new World Bank Group initiative that aims to address this gap by supporting high growth capital women-led companies in Pakistan to attract and raise capital to grow their businesses. Powered by the Bank’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Finance Initiative (We-Fi), WeRaise is being implemented by Invest2Innovate (i2i)and global partners efino and Valhalla Private Capital.
Over the next two years, WeRaise will support 30+ women-led Pakistani companies – selected through a competitive process – in raising capital from investors in Pakistan and worldwide through an investment readiness and capital raising coaching and support program. Selected startups will benefit from a tailored and be-spoke coaching and support program, which will include hands-on guidance from world class investment readiness coaches, access to a pool of local and international mentors & experts, capital raising seminars and topical resources, and connections with investors, all in service to raising funding to grow & scale their companies
About the Partners
Invest2Innovate has been a major player in the startup ecosystem in Pakistan since 2011, launching the country’s first startup accelerator program in 2012, which has now graduated nearly 50 companies. Their startups have gone on to raise over $7.5M in funding, 90% of which has been by their female-led companies. The company now supports startups via partnerships with players like the World Bank and Facebook , as well as other entrepreneurship support programs throughout Pakistan and the region, provides comprehensive research on the Pakistan startup ecosystem, and in 2019 launched i2i Ventures, its early stage VC fund for Pakistan & the country’s first female-founded fund.
Efino is filing in the startup finance gap led by experienced investors and entrepreneurs who have developed training and coaching methodologies to help startup raise. The efino team members have 10+ years of experience in strengthening entrepreneurial and investor ecosystems and have worked with startups globally, including in Georgia, Lebanon, Egypt & Luxembourg, helping them to connect to investors & successfully raise capital.
Valhalla Private Capital is an investor community-building program that unlocks capital for the other 99% of Small and Growing Business (SGBs) who don’t fit into a Silicon Valley Venture Capital Investment Thesis. The Valhalla Global team creates investment opportunities for new innovative ventures by one of Valhalla’s emerging market funds while creating long term relationships with local investors. Since 2003, the firm and its investors have invested over $70M into over 240 plus companies on 5 continents and 12 countries with 30% of the companies founded by women. It has pledged to invest $20 Million to women entrepreneurs through the Beyond the Billion Initiative. Entrepreneurs who have taken VPC fundraising courses have gone on to raise $500 Million in additional capital.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) supports women entrepreneurs by scaling up access to financial products and services, building capacity, expanding networks, offering mentors, and providing opportunities to link with domestic and global markets. Founded in October 2017, We-Fi harnesses the public and private sectors to open new doors for women entrepreneurs across the developing world. With funding of $354 million from 14 governments, this collaborative partnership among governments, multilateral development banks, and other stakeholders has been designed to unlock financing for women-led/owned businesses in developing countries, including in the most challenging environments. We-Fi supports women entrepreneurs by scaling up access to finance, markets, networks and mentors and information. It is also assisting governments in creating enabling environments for women in business.
The WeRaise program is supported by We-Fi via the World Bank.
- Yes. This program is free, and WeRaise takes no fee even if a startup raises funding as a result of or while they’re in the program.
Our eligibility criteria include:
Female co-founded or founded (50% or more) companies.
- Companies have initial market traction/post-revenue.
- Companies are registered companies (private limited entities if in Pakistan)
- Founder(s) are full-time on their business.
- Companies are raising seed-stage funding and/or actively seeking seed investment (pre-seed to post-seed).
- For cluster I – December – April, the program will be virtual given the current COVID-19 scenario. However, we will revise for the future.
- Clusters are more fluid and staggered to be flexible and allow entrepreneurs to enter as they are ready. It differs from a “cohort”-based model, which puts a grouping of entrepreneurs through a common program and is not as bespoke or flexible. For example, if a selected company comes into the program and raises funding within a month of WeRaise, they will exit the program, versus another company that requires more support over the course of a few months. The cluster model allows for more support and is customized for the needs of a startup.
- Yes. The i2i Accelerator is a cohort-based approach that is run wholly by Invest2Innovate over the course of four months. WeRaise is a program by the World Bank’s We-Fi, and is implemented by i2i, as well as international partners efino & VPC. It is designed to be more hands-on, bespoke & focused on helping companies raise funding, exposing female-led companies to investors outside the Pakistan startup ecosystem.
- Being part of WeRaise doesn’t guarantee that you will raise funding. We will connect you to investors, provide support through the process, and educate & help your business be investment-ready, but the rest is up to you.
- Yes. We are here to support companies through their capital-raising process. If you feel that is no longer a fit for your future strategy, we will support you in your decision to exit the program.
- While the “cluster” model is loose, we will launch a kick off event on December 9th and 10th for all selected companies, followed by a program that will take place along with coaching & support until April 2021. Companies can continue to be part of the coaching element post-April if they have still not raised funding prior to the end of Cluster