ILA Podcast

Sheba & ShEquity: Empowering Women-Owned Businesses

Innovating Leadership Co-Creating Our Future

with Pauline Koelbl


Pauline Koelbl discusses her work reshaping the future of women-owned businesses in Africa through the ShEquity investment fund.

40% of small and medium-sized businesses in Africa are owned by women. But expanding those businesses is tough: In 2022, single female founders and exclusively-female founding teams received approximately 2.4% of investments that went to startups in Africa. Pauline Koelbl is out to change that and narrow the extreme gender gap.

Here’s what Pauline and host Maureen Metcalf cover:

  • Why investing in women-led businesses does double duty as an investment in community, much more effectively than with men-led firms;
  • Breaking down the misconceptions around African women in business – and of the African business climate in general; and
  • The far-reaching impacts of the companies ShEquity has invested in so far.

About Pauline Koelbl

ShEquity’s Founder & Managing Partner, Pauline is a gender-lens/impact investor and a leading innovation expert in developing & emerging economies with over 20 years of experience in international affairs and venture philanthropy. ShEquity provides smart investment to impactful and scalable African female-led and owned businesses. Pauline also has 11+ years of experience catalyzing innovation and supporting SMES/startups across Africa. Her passion lies in innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic empowerment of youth and women.

A double Fulbright Scholar and Fellow, Pauline holds an Executive Education in Innovation for Economic Development from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government; a Master’s Degree (MA) in Poverty and Development, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Studies (Honors) from the University of Arizona (UoA), USA. In 2022, Pauline was recognized as one of 100 Leaders building ‘Meaningful Business’, combining profit and purpose to help achieve the UN Global Goals.

Host Maureen Metcalf

Maureen Metcalf

Maureen Metcalf brings 30 years of experience and success in the fields of leadership, innovation, and technology. A regular contributor to, Metcalf has authored an award-winning book series on leadership and is the Founder & CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. She is the host of an Innovating Leadership, a weekly international podcast that hit the airways in July 2015. As an ILA Fellow, Maureen partners with the International Leadership Associate on a series of global leadership podcasts within the show.

About Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future

The pace of change in the world is increasing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. Leadership is evolving and requires more and more innovative leaders to keep up. Many leaders update what they lead but not how they think about and act as leaders. They become outdated. This matters because Leadership creates strategic advantage.

 Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future features interviews with global business executives, thought leaders and academics in a wide range of industries. They discuss their most pressing issues and the innovative approaches they have employed to transform their challenges into opportunities and advantages. The application of proven concepts and tools that may be applied to build your organization and deliver sustainable success are presented and discussed.