Programme report: What BOOST’s women innovators learned

 In 2022, we worked with 55 changemakers from 16 countries and territories in Europe and Central Asia on harnessing innovation and technology to advance gender equality. 

To strengthen the ecosystems of women innovators and entrepreneurs and advance gender equality in the region, BOOST’s acceleration programme for Women Innovators set out to boost innovative solutions that tackle key challenges faced by women and girls in four key thematic areas: women and digital access and use, women in the digital economy and STEM, women in data, and women driving technology innovation. 

Click to read the BOOST Women Innovators Programme Report.

Our Women Innovators Programme Report highlights the collective work of BOOST’s second regional edition, and how the 55 participants are leveraging innovation and technology to address a range of issues – from gender-based violence and access to sexual healthcare services to advancing women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and opportunities for upskilling. 

The majority of BOOST’s changemakers are on a mission to advance gender equality (40%), decent work and economic growth (31%), quality education (25%), reduce inequalities (22%), and strengthen health and wellbeing (15%). Over 70% reported they had gained a better understanding of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and how their organization’s impact contributes to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nearly half of the participants (45%) are working in the field of education (33%) and health (12%). 

The unique impact acceleration programme brings together a wide range of participants, including impact ventures (startups, SMEs and social enterprises), and non-profits and academic institutions. They took part in a rigorous 12-week programme, which was conducted fully online from May through July 2022 and consisted of a learning and capability development journey, comprising five core modules – from business development and impact measurement to tech and digital transformation and more. 

During the programme, some of the participants developed their first impact models, while others explored opportunities to diversify resources, to reduce donor funding dependency and enhance strategic, long-term thinking. Most importantly, BOOST created a supportive environment and network of women innovators, that enabled peer-to-peer connections, and knowledge and experience sharing. What’s more, during the programme, participants were able to get targeted advice from experts who recognize the challenges that women face in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Nine of the participants received a total of US$90,000 in equity-free capital, in support of further developing and scaling their impact innovations. 

To learn more about the innovation journey, check out the stats and testimonials in our Programme Report.  

Thank you to our partners at Startup Grind, KWORKS, ImpactAIM, UNDP-UNICEF’s joint regional STEM4ALL platform, and The Behavioural Insights Team, for delivering powerful sessions from business development to impact measurement so participants and develop and scale their high-impact innovations. We are grateful to the amazing BOOST speakers: Phin Mpofu, Kashyap Kompella, Hesus Inoma, Vik Kasturi, Maral Kalajian, Lilit Hovhannisyan, Jesus Lozano, Petar Savic & Anastasia Miron, who shared their experiences, best practises, and valuable insights. The participants also had access to both individual and group mentoring sessions led by Startup Grind’s mentors community: Petar Savic, Jesus (Chus) Lozano, Hesus Inoma, Nazareth Seferian, Naimul Abd, Rania Gelidan, Phin Mpofu, Tony Hughes, Corey Hart, Pakiza Abdulrahman, Solange Rodriguez Soifer, Anastasia Miron, Mehkar Sheikh, Joshua Ness, Patrycja Maksymowicz, Rodrigo de Alvarenga, Lukas Hertig, Curtis Bergh, Franco Bondi, Jessica Acosta, Rohan Potdar and Tal Rom.

BOOST is an impact acceleration programme, powered by UNDP Europe and Central Asia. In February 2022, it launched the Women Innovators challenge, consisting of two tracks, in collaboration with innovation partners Koç Holding and the Slovak Ministry of Finance. 

Explore our open
challenges and apply now

Read more