Every small business owner knows how difficult it can be to get access to affordable capital. But for many women in the Global South, it’s not just difficult — it’s often impossible.

A few years ago in Senegal, I met a woman who decided to do something about that problem. In 2017, Thiaba Camara Sy left her job as the head of a consulting firm and co-founded WIC Capital, an investment fund for women entrepreneurs in West Africa. Since then, WIC Capital has raised more than $5 million and invested in eight businesses run by women who knocked on far too many closed doors before WIC saw their potential.

One of those women, Souadou Fall, co-founded a company that turns abandoned tires — which would otherwise gather rainwater and breed mosquitoes — into fuel for factories. Fashion designer Safietou Seck, who’d struggled to find funding despite an MBA and years of experience, was able to grow her company and now sells her designs to customers around the world. And Isseu Diop Sakho expanded a business that bakes French pastries from native grains, supporting 20 local suppliers and 75 employees.