Innovating in uncertain times: How startups are shaping the care industry

Date: Friday, September 10, 2021

Author: Seedstars, Bopinc and WeEmpowerAsia

A nurse from the start-up company Carer providing homecare. The EU-funded WeEmpowerAsia programme of UN Women, in cooperation with Seedstars and Bopinc, ghas launched the UN Women Care Accelerator to turn the unequal care burden women carry into economic opportunities. For more information about the programme, visit: Photo: Carer

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many lives and many industries. Certain ones like healthcare, education, even tourism and the event industry were hit more than others. Adaptability and quick thinking have been key to businesses staying afloat for entrepreneurs in every corner of the world. 

However, adapting to the new circumstances has also been necessary at home, whether it’s taking the time to care for a sick family member, cleaning, cooking or making sure that the kids make it to the 8 AM online class. The workload for care has increased with the need to keep up with our new situations, all while health risks and economic instability have been looming over us. Women have been disproportionately affected by this increased workload, and even before the pandemic were on average carrying out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. In Asia-Pacific, women and girls spend up to 11 times more of their day on unpaid care work than men and boys. These proportions have only increased since the onset of the pandemic. The data also shows that 42 per cent of women doing increased unpaid care work  are excluded from the labour force.

Reports state the care economy is worth a staggering $648 billion USD. But where exactly does the care industry come into play? With the global population and the number of elderly people both increasing, it is to be expected that the industry of caring for people, from infancy to old age, will be an even bigger part of our everyday lives. What is included in the care industry is somewhat open to interpretation: childcare, tech for parents, household management, elderly care facilities and caregivers etc. Room for improvement was clear when Covid-19 reached elderly care homes, where it spread very quickly and resulted in a high number of deaths. Not only were the residents in danger, but also healthcare and social care workers, who have twice the death rate due to COVID-19 compared to the general population according to research from the UK.

To help innovative solutions grow and combat these new challenges, UN Women ͑s WeEmpowerAsia programme, funded by the European Union, initiated the UN Women Care Accelerator, a collaboration with Seedstars, and the Innovation Center Bopinc. This six-month programme aims to support businesses that are benefiting or led by women in job creation, turning the unequal care burden women carry into economic opportunities. 

“It’s great to be able to support innovators trying to disrupt an industry that is oftentimes overlooked. We hope our accelerator brings the right push to the care sector and sets companies up for rapid growth,” says Eugenia Shevchenko, acceleration programme manager at Seedstars.

“Women’s unequal share of care responsibilities is not only mainly unpaid, but it also results in preventing many of them from fully participating in the economy,” said Katja Freiwald, Regional Programme Manager of WeEmpowerAsia at UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

“It’s time to stop this inequality for the benefit of women, families, and societies. We’ve selected leading startups that are generating change in the care sector with promising solutions from creating accessible and affordable care services to providing employment opportunities and useful technology and tools. It is our mission to amplify the impacts of these companies and create a more inclusive care economy, ultimately increasing women's economic participation.”

We have selected 13 startups from the Asia-Pacific region working in the care-giving industry and talked to them about innovations they are bringing to the table:

To read the original blog post, visit:

To learn more about the UN Women Care Accelerator programme, visit: