A Year Like No Other: Our 2020 Annual Report

We’re delighted to release our 2020 annual report, detailing our activities over a year like no other.

When the world was thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic, we all needed to dig deep to find the resilience to cope with the crisis.

For many women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries, who rely on their businesses to provide for themselves and their families, resilience meant the difference between retaining a livelihood or not. At the Foundation, our role through 2020 was to support them to navigate this uncharted situation and ensure their businesses were not only going to survive, but thrive.

2020 Annual Report

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“It is hard to imagine any annual report written this year that does not highlight the
effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes our Chair, Dr Mathias Terheggen, “The global pandemic has had a severe impact for women entrepreneurs all around the world, which led to rising need for our work.

More positively, the operational resilience and strategic excellence the Foundation and its staff had built over the years became clear as the working environment became more and more difficult. Finally, as this report shows, success and impact was delivered to an increased level against all adversity.”


So, what exactly did we get up to in 2020 and how did we meet the needs of the women we exist to serve? Here are our headlines…


  • Through our programmes we directly supported over 24,000 women entrepreneurs across 59 countries.
  • We quickly pivoted and adapted in response to COVID-19 to support the women in our programmes as best as possible and ensure our own resilience and security.
  • We published our first annual audit of women entrepreneurs, conducted a thorough COVID-19 response survey with the women on our programmes, and began our second audit.
  • Our Mentoring Women in Business programme connected 779 mentee-mentor pairs. Mentees hired 1,946 people during their time on the programme. We launched an opportunity for independent mentors to join for the first time, and began redeveloping the platform.
  • In response to the pandemic, we launched a suite of open-access online programmes, receiving over 6,500 users or engagements.
  • We launched HerVenture in Kenya, added new learning tracks in response to COVID-19, and made it available on iOS for the first time. It was downloaded by over 20,000 women.
  • Road to Growth delivery in Mexico was finished, concluding in early 2020 with 180 women entrepreneurs graduating.
  • We concluded the monitoring and evaluation of the second iteration of Road to Growth in Nigeria, and began delivery of the third.
  • We concluded the Mujeres AVE ‘one stop shop’ pilot in Mexico, supporting 44 women.
  • We began developing our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning framework, to enable a cross organisational approach to measuring our impact and inform our future work.
  • We began focussing more strongly on implementing our advocacy strategy.
  • Our 100,000 Women Campaign launched in January in Davos, alongside the World Economic Forum, aiming to raise £10 million over 3 years in order to support 100,000 more women.
  • We saw high-profile Campaign support across the year from major figures and the Global Campaign Board developed into a flourishing network.
  • We ran a successful end-of-year appeal entitled “WE persist” with Hillary Clinton, Olivia Colman, Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg and others, receiving over 100,000 views.


We would like to thank all of our partners, sponsors, donors and stakeholders, our staff and trustees, and our tireless founder, who all supported the Foundation throughout 2020. But above all, we would like to thank the many thousands of women entrepreneurs who participate in our work. As our CEO Helen McEachern puts it, these phenomenal women…

Continue to uplift each other, and tirelessly work to grow their businesses and their personal impact on their communities with persistence and creativity. The courage and resilience they brought to this crisis humbles me every day.

Helen McEachern, CEO