Programs & Projects

G-SEARCh: Building Evidence for Gender Lens Investing


The Gender-Smart Enterprise Assistance Research Coalition (G-SEARCh) comprises a group of six like-minded impact investors: AlphaMundi Foundation, Acumen, SEAF, Root Capital, AHL Venture Partners and Shell Foundation, working to help scale purpose driven businesses and gender lens impact investing for more sustainable and inclusive economies through actionable evidence, fostering dialogue and collaboration across sectors. G-SEARCh believes that gender diverse teams lead to better financial and social outcomes and strives to build the evidence and a strong business case for investing with a gender lens that will be shared with the broader sector.

As part of this effort, the William Davidson Institute’s (WDI) Performance Measurement and Improvement team will develop and execute a robust research plan to generate evidence on improvements in financial and social performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that receive gender-lens investments and incorporate gender-smart activities across their business processes. For this research, WDI will investigate the outcomes of gender-smart technical assistance (TA) provided to SMEs, using interviews and surveys to gather data with the additional goal to strengthen these interventions to generate further impact. WDI will also investigate the effectiveness of different approaches and tools that the G-SEARCh consortium’s members use to incorporate gender-smart practices across 28-30 SMEs in different regions. The research will leverage existing data gathered by investors, SMEs and implementing partners and will use participatory research approaches. Deep dives on a select group of SMEs will also collect data on a key target audience to assess the potential outcomes of gender lens investment and TA. WDI will work closely with G-SEARCh and other stakeholders in the sector to develop a gender lens investment toolkit and case studies to illustrate various interventions and analysis, and will produce a report summarizing key findings.

The goal of this research is to provide knowledge and lessons to SMEs as they seek to become more inclusive and gender-equitable, and to impact investors, as they allocate resources to gender-smart interventions and approaches so that impact investing becomes a tool for gender transformation.


  1. Executive summary and final report:  We share the business and social outcomes of gender-smart TA activities in SMEs to build the evidence base for gender lens investing. The report raises three key takeaways and three calls to action for investors, funders, and SME leadership. We also share lessons to strengthen the design and implementation of gender-inclusive TA strategies to ensure impact.
  2. Case studies: These short case studies capture the business and social outcomes of different gender-smart TA activities implemented in five different companies.
    1. Digicon Technologies Ltd (Bangladesh, Business Services)
    2. INSOTEC (Ecuador, Financial Services)
    3. Nova Coffee (Rwanda, Food and Agriculture)
    4. PowerGen Renewable Energy (Sierra Leone, Energy)
    5. Sanergy (Kenya, Food and Agriculture)
  3. G-SEARCh tested tools & approaches for gender lens investing: In this brief for investors and SMEs, we capture information on the tools and approaches used by members of the G-SEARCh consortium for designing and implementing gender-smart TA for SMEs.
  4. This live Google Sheet captures the social and financial performance indicators to measure the success of gender-smart TA activities. We suggested these indicators to participating portfolio companies in our G-SEARCh research sample. This resource is for SMEs, investors, funders, research organizations, and other impact assessment professionals.
  5. The G-SEARCh toolkit includes the case study methodology and interview protocols used in this research.

We’d love to hear your feedback or answer any questions about these resources; please contact Yaquta Fatehi at <>

Consortium Members:


We are grateful for the support from our partners:


Collaborating Partner:

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