Bringing 2X Challenge Criteria to Bolivian early-stage ventures

SOYMUNAY S.R.L.
6 min readJun 29, 2022

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By: Valeria Medinaceli Molina

Despite women represent half of the world’s population, they only represent 37% of the global GDP (Convergence, 2018). This statistic is just a small depiction of the gender gap and its global effect; therefore, contributing to closing the gender gap is an essential factor for the empowerment of women and the development of the society.

Since 2018, one of the global initiatives to address this issue is the 2X Challenge: Financing for Women. This proposal was born as an idea of the G7’s Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) and is meant to mobilize their own funds as well as channel private resources to boost the participation of women as entrepreneurs, leaders, workers, and/or users of products and services that encourage their participation on the global economy.

Source: 2X Challenge

Following the challenge, G7 and other DFIs, along with private sector capital support, are committed to raising collectively USD 3b during 2021–2022. A target of USD 15b in funds is expected to be invested in the world’s women (2X Challenge, 2021). This objective surpasses by 32% the amount raised since the challenge’s inception (2018–2020).

Even though the main objective of the 2X Challenge is to channel capital towards women it would not suffice without a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to invest in and with women. Therefore, it encourages the data collection and measurement of women’s participation in the different aspects of a business, and the impact of investing in them.

However, a growing challenge for impact investing is socialwashing, described as misleading claims about investing in social issues, such as women’s empowerment. Part of the problem relies on the lack of a greater industry-standard to differentiate between an investment based on ESG matters, with those based on impact or ethics (CFA, 2021), or that defines an impact investment as such. 2X Challenge aims to set the standard for Gender Lens Investing through its criteria.

An investment becomes 2X eligible when it complies with at least one of the criteria set by the Challenge, which are focused on four direct aspects (Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Employment, and Consumption) and one indirect (Investment through Financial Intermediaries). The proposed criteria seek not only to count but also to value women, which is something that is sometimes overlooked by gender lens investing. 2X Challenge uses quantitative criteria to measure how investees include women and qualitative criteria to assess how the same investees value them, therefore, it provides a deeper understanding of women’s value and participation in the investments and for the society in general.

2X Challenge criteria was designed to become a convention in gender lens investing, setting the standard to classify the investments made by DFIs and other large institutional investors. However, there is more than only one approach where the criteria can be useful. One example of a new perspective is proposed by Munay, a Bolivian social fintech that provides, through its digital platform (www.soymunay.org), financial support via nanocredits and technical advisory through specialized mentorships to ventures that accomplish at least one of the four direct 2X Challenge criteria.

Munay’s objective is to empower female entrepreneurs in Bolivia and Latin America, which means that it has gender lens imprinted in its core. Working to strengthen the situation of entrepreneurs with a gender lens must not be only restricted to women, as the active participation of men is also important to contribute to the gender gap closure. Therefore, Munay bases its classification of gender lens compliant ventures in the criteria and thresholds proposed by 2X Challenge, adapting the usage to the reality and circumstances that working with early-stage ventures demands.

Gender Lens Criteria applied by Munay

Munay has been applying the gender lens criteria to classify the ventures since the release of its digital platform in 2021. So far, the platform has 194 Bolivian ventures that comply with at least one criterion. These ventures were founded by a total of 368 entrepreneurs out of which 85% are women, they also registered a total workforce of 605 people, 77% of them are women.

Source: Munay

Based on 2X Challenge, Munay’s gender lens criteria for early-stage ventures are as follows:

1. Entrepreneurship

The venture was founded by one or several women or at least 51% of the assets belong to one or several women.

Criterion in detail:

  • Percentage of the venture that belongs to women:
  • Venture founded by one or several women that remain with an active involvement in the business.

Expected impact:

  • Increase opportunities for women entrepreneurs by providing them with access to financing.
  • Promote women entrepreneurs as role models.

88% of the ventures in Munay’s platform comply with this criterion.

2. Leadership

Representation of women in senior management.

Criterion in detail:

  • Percentage of women in senior management*:

*This criterion will only apply to ventures with at least five workers.

Expected impact:

  • Promote the benefits of diversity in entrepreneurship.
  • Encourage the participation of women in hierarchical positions to represent the needs of the female gender.

14% of the ventures in Munay’s platform comply with this criterion.

3. Employment

Participation of women in the labor force and continuous improvement in labor access for women.

Criterion in detail:

  • Percentage of women in the workforce
  • Percentage of women in outsourced positions
  • Percentage of women suppliers
  • Policies or programs that address barriers to quality employment for women that have been implemented or have a commitment to implementation.

Expected impact:

  • Enhance women’s potential for income generation, value capture and job security.
  • Support professional development to enhance other forms of empowerment.
  • Inclusion of women as direct labor, outsourced workers and suppliers.

86% of the ventures in Munay’s platform comply with this criterion.

4. Consumption

To provide goods or services targeted to and benefiting women.

Criterion in detail:

Seeks for products or services that specifically or disproportionately benefit women. They qualify if:

  • They are designed for the unique needs of women.
  • They address a problem that disproportionately affects women.
  • Has a majority of female clients
  • Has a majority of women beneficiaries

Qualifying products are those that enable women to increase their:

  • Security
  • Access to finance or markets
  • Access to health
  • Access to education
  • Time savings

11% of the ventures in Munay’s platform comply with this criterion.

2X Challenge criteria have set the baseline for the classification of gender lens investing. Munay has taken a step forward by adapting these criteria to another practical application, the classification of early-stage ventures as gender lens compliant. So far, the implementation of these criteria has allowed not only receive ventures that otherwise would have been rejected (not founded/owned entirely by women), but also it allowed to increase the visibility of female entrepreneurs and reinforce the importance of not only counting but valuating them and their contribution as entrepreneurs, leaders, and workers.

Convergence. (2018). G7’s 2X challenge: Blending finance with a gender lens — Blog — Convergence News | Convergence.

2X Challenge. (2021). 2X Challenge.

CFA Institute. (2021). Certificate in ESG Investing Curriculum: ESG Investing Official Training Manual. CFA Institute.

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