Promoting a transformative care economy through impact investing
The care economy, including childcare and eldercare, is vital to society, yet it remains invisible, undervalued, and unevenly distributed. Unpaid care and domestic work, which is mainly carried out by women, is a key barrier to women’s and girls’ empowerment. The economic crisis generated by COVID-19 has swept away many years of global progress towards gender equality, revealing and exacerbating the disproportionate responsibility for unpaid and care work that women continue to bear, especially the poorest and most marginalized.
Innovative market-based solutions to recognize, reward, reduce, and redistribute care activities are emerging. These include business models to provide affordable, high-quality childcare to underserved communities, improve labour conditions for care-economy workers, and develop accessible time or labour-saving, environment-friendly technologies that reduce drudgery. Yet, more knowledge is needed on the impact and scalability of these models. Implementation research on the financial viability and social and environmental benefits of businesses operating in the care economy is essential for impact investors to make evidence-based decisions on investments that hold potential for combining both business benefits and development gains.
This project will support scalable and market-based approaches to reduce, redistribute, and reward women’s care work. It will generate evidence and data on gaps and opportunities to accelerate entrepreneurship and investment in the care economy in emerging markets. A key focus will be on customers of care-economy businesses to better understand their experiences, the benefits they are gaining, and the pathways to impact. It will also inform strategies for care-economy enterprises to meet their capital and resource needs. The project will build partnerships and alliances with investors, entrepreneurs, and intermediaries to advance business model innovation and investment in the care economy. The project will engage with evidence users, including business owners and entrepreneurs, impact investors, researchers, and policymakers to generate actionable and accessible evidence to meet users’ needs and facilitate a community of practice and a hub where these actors can connect.