Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19 Project

Call for Applications: Gender Inclusive Financial and Non-Financial Services through the ILO’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Self-Check (WE-Check)

The International Labour Organization’s “Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19” Project, supported by J.P. Morgan, invites interested business development service providers, financial institutions, government agencies and other organizations that provides assistance to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to submit their application to benefit from the Women’s Entrepreneurship Self-Check (WE-Check) in 2022.

News | 08 March 2022

Introduction to the WE-Check

Women entrepreneurs play an important role in employment creation and income generation. In 2020, around 23 per cent, or 1.9 million, of employers in the region were women according to ILO estimates. However, women’s economic potential and their specific needs are not always recognized in the financial and business development services market. By improving organization’s provision of gender-sensitive business support, these services can play a key role in unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs and contribute to improved social and economic development outcomes and gender equality.

The WE-Check is an institutional self-assessment tool developed by the ILO to assist organizations providing financial and non-financial business support to MSMEs to become more gender-inclusive. The WE-Check process enables organizations to conduct a self-assessment of the extent to which they target and serve women entrepreneurs, as a means to improve their performance and enhance their impact and sustainability. With the findings of this assessment, WE-Check supports organizations to develop and pilot an evidence-based action plan.

The WE-Check focuses specifically on three areas of an organizations’ operations:
  1. Clients and Outreach: Focuses on how well the organizations knows its clients and how inclusive and effectively it communicates its products and services with women entrepreneurs.
  2. Products and Services: Focuses on the extent to which products and services offered by the organization meet the differentiated needs of women entrepreneurs
  3. Strategy and Operations: Focuses on the organization’s commitment to gender equality and if and how this commitment is mainstreamed across the organization’s strategy and day-to-day operations.
The WE-Check is a three-step process that takes between 6 and 12 months to complete. It is carried out by an internal team comprised of a diverse group of staff members of the organization and is led by the organization’s senior management. During the process, the organization benefits from technical assistance and support provided by the ILO and an external consultant.

Why participate in this Call for Applications

If selected in this Call for Applications, organizations will benefit from technical assistance provided by the ILO and an external consultant contracted by the ILO to support your organization at each stage of the WE-Check process, which have been tailored to maximize outcomes.

Advantages for organizations participating in the WE-Check:
  • Assess and enhance their provision of support to women entrepreneurs
  • Increase the effectiveness of their communication
  • Tap into an underserved and untapped market for service provision
  • Improve access to financial resources (funds, impact and gender-lens investors, grants...)
  • Respond to shareholders’ pressure for greater gender-sensitiveness
  • Improve employees’ commitment
  • Gain ILO recognition
By participating in the WE-Check, organizations supporting MSMEs will be able to understand the extent to which their strategies, policies, products and services are positioned to serve women entrepreneurs in their market and take action by adapting products and services to fit these needs. The aim is to allow organizations to broaden their client base, contribute to positive business and development outcomes and achieve greater institutional sustainability.

At the end of the process, the organization will obtain recognition from the ILO as an organization that has gone through the WE-Check process.

Eligibility criteria

Organizations applying for the Call for Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • The organization is a public or private entity established and operating in Malaysia, Philippines or Thailand.
  • The organization employs a minimum of ten employees and is able to allocate staff time to the WE-Check process.
  • The organization is operational and provides services to MSMEs in their country.
  • The organization has a qualified management team and a strong commitment to adopting more gender-sensitive approaches.

Selection process

All applications received within the set deadline will be reviewed against the eligibility criteria mentioned above. Priority will be given to organizations that demonstrate the following in their application:
  • Provide financial or non-financial services to entrepreneurs and/or SMEs.
  • Available to participate in a WE-Check process from May to December this year.
  • Are willing to adopt more gender-responsive approaches, particularly in their outreach strategies, their products and services and organizational strategies and operations.
  • Are able to allocate staff time of 3-10 mid-level staff members to the WE-Check process. One of the team members will have the role of Team Lead and will be the main person responsible for coordinating the WE-Check process while the others will support the self-assessment process. The amount of staff and staff-time allocated will ultimately depend on the size of the organization and the depth of the self-assessment and data collection tools used.

Deadline and instructions for submitting applications

The deadline for submission of applications is 31 March 2022. Applications will be reviewed, and organizations selected to participate in the WE-Check will be informed the week commencing on 11 April. The WE-Check process will then start in early May with selected organizations.

In order to submit an application, organizations are requested to complete the application form and send together with a short letter explaining how your organization will benefit from the WE-Check process (maximum 1,000 words), signed by the organization’s senior leadership to and

Only complete applications submitted within the deadline will be considered.

For questions about this Call for Applications, please contact