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SecondMuse Capital’s Future Economy Lab Asia Supports Development of Innovative Financial Mechanisms for Gender-Smart MSMEs

Supported by Visa Foundation, the lab’s findings from India, Indonesia and Vietnam highlight importance of investing in gender-smart MSMEs focused on climate solutions. 

NEW YORK – February 22, 2024 - SecondMuse Capital, the impact-focused capital arm of SecondMuse, today released its latest summary of findings report from their new Future Economy Lab in Asia. SecondMuse Capital, supported by Visa Foundation, SecondMuse Foundation and in partnership with AVPN, carried out this Future Economy Lab, focused on “Financing Gender-Smart Climate Businesses in Asia.” The lab addresses financing barriers faced by gender-smart, climate-positive micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in South and Southeast Asia, specifically in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. 

MSMEs are the economic backbone of the region and play a pivotal role in fostering a resilient and inclusive economy. Yet, women business leaders face structural and cultural constraints when attempting to access finance. The ultimate goal for the lab is to co-create financial mechanisms to mobilize more accessible financial capital and other resources to scale gender-smart climate MSMEs in the region.

“Through the Future Economy Lab, we are designing financial mechanisms, utilizing blended finance, and equipping gender-smart MSMEs so they are able to actively contribute to climate solutions,” said Natalia Arjomand, Senior Director of SecondMuse Capital. “Women-led MSMEs are one of the most promising drivers of economic development in South and Southeast Asia, yet the lack of funding continues to stand in the way of them positively impacting communities. Providing these women with the resources they need for their businesses will help solve climate issues and bridge the gap for women business owners.”

“The financing gap for women-led businesses and fund managers advancing climate-smart solutions is significant. Visa Foundation is proud to work alongside our partners, like SecondMuse, to address this imbalance,” said Payal Pathak, Program Officer, Visa Foundation. “Equipping women entrepreneurs with the necessary capital and tools will help amplify positive and long-lasting impact on our environment and communities.”

Key findings from the lab include:

  • South and Southeast Asian nations are among those most vulnerable to climate change, and capital markets have been slow to address this issue in the region. 

  • There is an undervalued, interconnected relationship between climate change and gender inequality.

  • There is an unmet credit gap of over US$11.4 billion for women-owned businesses in India alone.

  • MSMEs are vital to the regionʼs economies and impact climate. In Indonesia alone, MSMEs account for approximately 99% of existing businesses today and employ over 97% of the workforce, and more than 65% of these employees are women.

  • Loans are MSMEsʼ preferred source of external finance. In Vietnam, 80% of women-owned MSMEs surveyed by the ADB first looked to borrow from a bank.

  • Women entrepreneurs in India receive only 5.2% of outstanding credit granted by public sector banks and less than .5% of VC funds. 

The Future Economy Lab represents a comprehensive research and design process intended to innovate how we create financial mechanisms and collaborative strategies that support the growth of inclusive and resilient economies. It does this through a collaborative process by engaging a wide group of stakeholders, including investors, governments, entrepreneurs, support organizations, and more in research and design. Since SecondMuse Capital launched the forward-thinking program, there have been seven iterations around the world, focused on different sectors and economies. SecondMuse Capital has operated Future Economy Labs in the US and Canada, among other locations, and is focused on crucial topics such as gender and racial equality, diversity, collective ownership for small businesses, climate solutions, and education. This iteration is the first lab in the Asian Pacific region. 

In preparation, the team undertook extensive desktop research, held in-depth workshops, and conducted more than 25 key stakeholder interviews with individuals who have deep experience working with gender-smart businesses in the regions. Through its partnership with AVPN, SecondMuse Capital was connected to key ecosystem actors through its strong regional network and undertake extensive research and stakeholder interviews.

Moutushi Sengupta, Chief of Capital Mobilisation at AVPN shares, “As an ecosystem partner, AVPN is able to tap on the strength of our network to bring together like-minded individuals to foster collaboration and deliver insights and learning opportunities to support this area of impact. By harnessing the power of collective action by leveraging their expertise, we will be able to strengthen ecosystems and structures to create impactful change for women by bringing these issues to the forefront.”

To learn more about The Future Economy Lab and the Summary of Findings, visit: LINK


About SecondMuse Capital

SecondMuse Capital designs and manages investments to finance economies of the future. These economies generate financial returns and value for more than a select few. They will protect and preserve the planet, benefit people from all cultures and communities, and incentivize innovations that contribute to economic resilience and sustainability. We believe that this work doesn’t have to take place over generations, it can scale today. In our approach to designing and investing we are guided by the following values; stewardship, integrity, transparency, humility, and collaboration. We work alongside our sister companies SecondMuse, and SecondMuse Foundation to leverage their extensive experience building inclusive economies and supporting systems’ innovation around the world. Together our broad network of industry, corporate, community, and public sector partners create lasting value for the companies and funds in which we invest. For information about our current investment opportunities and our Future Economy Lab, visit: 

About SecondMuse Foundation 

SecondMuse Foundation, the fiscal sponsor of this project, was established in June 2019 as a Delaware nonprofit corporation and is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charitable organization. The Foundation envisions a world with zero injustice and sustainable prosperity. Our mission is focused on a new approach called “Relational Wealth” that recognizes the interconnectedness of our world by prioritizing relationships for building inclusive and resilient economies. SecondMuse Foundation aims to inspire ways of thinking and actions to drive societal change at scale rather than unconsciously replicating the status quo on expanding this approach to a larger audience, learning from others in the field and on the forefront of this work, and advancing this tool together through collaborations and partnerships. For more information about SecondMuse Foundation and our work, visit:

About AVPN

AVPN is the largest network of social investors in Asia, comprising over 600 diverse members across 33 markets. Our mission is to increase the flow and effectiveness of financial, human, and intellectual capital in Asia by enabling members to channel resources towards impact. As an ecosystem builder, AVPN enables its members to connect, learn, act, and lead social impact efforts across key pillars while improving the effectiveness of deployed capital, bringing local field needs, regional expertise, and policy insights to the forefront. For more information about AVPN and our work, please read our latest Annual Review and visit: 


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