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Gender-Smart Investing Recap: An Evening of Gender Equality and Impact Investment

Gender-Smart Investing Recap: An Evening of Gender Equality and Impact Investment

At last week’s Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, Gender-Smart Investing hosted an event titled “The Power of Finance” which SEAF Managing Director Bob Webster was fortunate enough to attend.

The event began with Suzanne Biegel, co-producer of Gender-Smart Investing and founder of Catalyst at Large, discussing “The State of the Field” of gender lens investing. She was followed by an impressive sequence of speakers, including the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who spoke to why this issue of gender investing matters, the founder and CEO of Acumen Jacqueline Novogratz who discussed how to put these types of investment into practice, and Marc-Andre Blanchard, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN who spoke with Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF on how innovative finance can fuel development.

SEAF’s Bob Webster in the Solution Circle discussing the confluence of impact investing and gender investing in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Credit to Gender-Smart Investing.

These discussions were followed by themed breakout conversations to facilitate a collaboration on some more targeted goals, challenges, and solutions in 20 different “Solution Circles”. Bob joined Julia-Newton Howes of Investing in Women in leading the Solution Circle on “Investing in SE Asia and the Pacific” to share their experiences of how gender equality and impact investing investments can converge in the region. Other Solution Circles ranged from “Using Finance to Address Gender-Based Violence”, led by Joy Anderson of the Criterion Institute, to “Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health”, which was led by Ruth Shaber of RHIA Ventures and Tara Health.

Perhaps most exciting, the event was highlighted by the announcement of various commitments and partnerships, including the following:

SEAF, Acumen, Alphamundi, AHL Ventures, and Root Capital announced their partnership in G-SEARCH

G-SEARCH is the newly founded Gender Smart Enterprise Assistance Research Coalition. The Coalition aims to discover and share the most effective ways to embed gender equality and impact for women and girls into the DNA of social enterprises and SMEs. With an initial group of five impact investors working with companies in emerging markets, the group’s research will focus on the various approaches to key business challenges with a gender lens, evaluate their effectiveness, and look for patterns and insights that can help inform the broader enterprise development and impact investing sectors.

“SEAF is very excited to partner with its fellow impact investors in G-SEARCH, as we view the collaboration as a key step in taking SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard© to the next level,” remarked Bob Webster, Managing Director of SEAF.  “We have always understood that the GES© will need further development and validation, and the G-SEARCH coalition provides an excellent partnership to do just that.  SEAF is really looking forward to sharing learnings with our G-SEARCH partners to advance gender equality.”

The Match International Women’s Fund launches the Equality Fund

The Equality Fund is a new collaboration that will combine international feminist grantmaking with an innovative investment arm, that aims to deliver new momentum for women’s movements and support the advancement of gender equality globally. The Equality Fund’s core work will focus on supporting women’s rights organizations and feminist movements both domestically and internationally. The Fund will provide financial resources, support capacity building, and accompany organizations at the grassroots, national and international levels.

FinDev and UN Women sign an MOU on impact initiatives for women in LatAm and Sub-Saharan Africa

FinDev Canada and UN Women signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in advancing women’s economic empowerment through private sector initiatives. The parties will work to ensure that investors worldwide learn about the business case behind gender-lens investing and the multiple advantages of applying gender considerations to their portfolios. An image of the announcement of this Memorandum of Understanding between FinDev and UN Women at the event is posted above. (Credit to FinDev Canada).

FinDev, OPIC, CDC Group, Proparco, and the Mastercard Foundation are collaborating to sponsor “2X Invest2Impact” – Business Competition

These leading DFIs are teaming up with the Mastercard Foundation have created a business competition to support the growth of women-owned businesses in Africa. The competition will work to improve these entrepreneurs and businesses increase both their commerciality and impact on their local economies by providing mentorships, business development services, visibility and the opportunity for funding. Over the past year, The Netherlands Development Finance Company, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation, Swedfund, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries of Denmark have all joined this collaboration.

More to come…

These groundbreaking announcements at Gender-Smart are yet another example of the commitment that Women Deliver, SEAF, and many other organizations are continuing to make to support women’s economic empowerment. We look forward to watching all of these new initiatives and collaborations progress over the coming year and attract more investors to these strategies to empower women.

Read Bob Webster’s highlights from the 2019 Women Deliver conference and keep an eye on the news sections for more on G-SEARCH, other updates on our gender equality work and more on how SEAF employs private equity in emerging and frontier markets to create social impact.

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