ILA Podcast

ShEquity: A Refugee’s Path to Empowering Women & Their Businesses

Innovating Leadership with ILA Fellow Maureen Metcalf

with Pauline Koelbl


Pauline Koelbl, AfriProspect GmbH’s Founder and CEO and ShEquity’s Founder and Managing Partner, joins Maureen to share ShEquity’s vision to close the gender funding gap in Africa by providing smart investment to female-led and owned businesses that aim for triple bottom line: financial, social and environmental return.

Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 requires bold actions that unlock the potential of local innovators/entrepreneurs and foster inclusive access to opportunities and financing, especially for women. According to McKinsey Global Institute, “closing the gender gap in the workforce could add a staggering $28 trillion to the global GDP”. In Africa, women operate over 40% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but there is a financing gap of $42 billion (in USD) between male and female entrepreneurs. Given that women reinvest about 90% of their revenue in sector/activities that benefit their families and societies, compared to about 40% for men, closing the gender funding gap is a win for everyone! 

About Pauline Koelbl

Pauline Koelbl is AfriProspect GmbH’s Founder and CEO as well as ShEquity’s Founder and Managing Partner, Pauline is a leading innovation expert in developing & emerging economies, impact investor and seasoned impact-driven team leader with over 20 years’ experience in international affairs and venture philanthropy. AfriProspect focuses on connecting African innovators with global markets, and ShEquity provides smart investment to impactful and scalable African female-led and owned businesses. Pauline also has 10+ years’ experience catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa and her passion lies in innovation, entrepreneurship, youth, and women economic empowerment. A double Fulbright -Scholar and Fellow-, Pauline is currently serving on a variety of Boards of companies/organizations connected to business, entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa. 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. You can reach Pauline at

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.