Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Notes from the Network
Blog Home All Blogs

Beyond Traditional Gender Lens Investing: An Intersectional Approach

Posted By Melissa Benn, The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019

By Melissa Benn, Senior Program Analyst, and Alexandra Solomon, Senior Research Analyst for Ethics and Human Rights 


Gender Lens Investing: “The deliberate integration of gender analysis into investment analysis and decision-making

Gender lens investing (GLI) is “an investing approach that deliberately incorporates a desire to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, while meeting the risk/return objectives appropriate for an institutional portfolio.” The Criterion Institute and Jackie VanderBrug, Managing Director of Global Wealth Management at Bank of America, developed a comprehensive gender lens investing framework, defining, disaggregating, and evaluating the ways in which various investments can benefit and empower women.

Overall, GLI can include, but is not limited to, investments along the following three pillars: (i) Increasing access to capital for women, (ii) workplace equity for women, (iii) products and services for women.

Source: Investor toolkit with a focus on girls and young women. SPRING Accelerator, October 2018. Page 14.

Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations, such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, and how they overlap to create interdependent systems of disadvantage and discrimination

In development contexts, women are often considered to be a singular unified cohort that can be grouped together and served based solely on their gender. However, women are not a monolith. This overly simplistic classification interferes with the development community’s ability to serve the most vulnerable populations of women. Intersectionality broadens the concept of “women” and brings visibility to women with differential identities.

Because different groups have different needs, one must pay explicit attention to, and create, programs and solutions focused on different categorizations of women. Such solutions and programs may include, but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, income level, food security, income security, education level, location, financial literacy, access to information, land ownership and access, number of children and/or dependents in the household, disease burden, and marital status. Accounting for these factors would create a truly intersectional and impactful venture fund that does not overlook or exclude women with varying degrees of vulnerability.

How do we best address intersectionality to ensure the three above-mentioned pillars of GLI are inclusive?

 

Increasing access to capital for women

At the US Chamber of Commerce’s International Women’s Day Forum, Jamie Sears, Executive Director of Americas UBS Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, spoke about the “myth of meritocracy in the entrepreneur space” and how “discrimination is structural and persistent.” According to the World Bank, 70% of formal women-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries are either excluded by financial institutions or are unable to access financial services that meet their needs, resulting in a $287 billion gender funding gap annually. As investors rethink their impact and more purposefully direct capital flows, they have the opportunity to work with development actors to promote not only economic change and empowerment, but also the ability to address the accompanying shifts in attitudes, policies, and practices required to result in sustainable system change.

 

Workplace equity for women: Promoting gender equity throughout the value chain

Understanding how value chains are embedded in the social context that defines differential roles, opportunities, and barriers to success is essential to maximize efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Gender-blind and need-blind investments risk exacerbating gender inequities, failing to identify opportunities for economic growth, and widening the looming gender funding gap and gender agricultural productivity gap, which stands at an estimated 30% in Malawi. A purposeful focus on gender and other intersectional dynamics sheds light on the otherwise invisible relative disadvantages that all kinds of women face and can inform investment strategies in new or improved value chains.

Similarly, many development actors focus on microfinance as the silver bullet to women’s economic empowerment. However, by focusing on microfinance within spheres already in women’s limited areas of control (ie, market vending, textiles, etc), it is easy to overlook the root causes of inequities and not address larger systems built on patriarchal norms – such as politics, health care, and education – that exploit women and perpetuate their lack of adequate representation.

Further up the value chain, we see a growing body of evidence has linked gender diversity to measures of better performance, including return on invested capital (ROIC), return on equity (ROE), and ROE volatility. While this evidence highlights ROI for women’s representation and the damaging nature of gender-blind investments, more research is needed to parse out the different identities of women, such as women of color, women of varying income levels, LGBT people, and women living in the Global South.

 

Products and services for women

Very few companies directly address the needs of women, let alone the needs of women in the Global South. Jackie VanderBrug draws attention to the need for products that address the challenges that women face and how innovation has been gender-blind in many ways to date. In agriculture, for example, technology is “necessarily filtered through the gendered patterns of agricultural labour, household enterprises, family food consumption decisions and social structures.”

According to the SPRING Accelerator Investor Toolkit, “girls and young women do not need to be the direct end users to be impacted by a business’s products and services.” Investors can focus on ecosystems and specific industries, such as EdTech, that benefit and accelerate the success of women.

 

Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative in Malawi

If the work of the Foundation and the work of the development community is to address the needs of the most marginalized peoples, we must strive to define inclusion beyond gender. While women continue to be underserved and underutilized along the value chain, we have the ability to think deeper and to address the many layered issues that the most marginalized women in the world face.

The Agricultural Transformation Initiative’s (ATI) Investment Support Facility (ISF) in Malawi is focused on integrating smallholders into investor-grade transactions. All transactions in the pipeline must include women in a substantial way, integrate significant numbers of smallholder farmers into their business models, and demonstrate meaningful income and productivity increases for smallholders. We seek to answer the question: What does it mean to truly and materially integrate and include all women?

If you have ideas for helping to ensure the ISF is an intersectional investment fund, please comment below! We are always looking for new ideas to ensure we support the most vulnerable communities in Malawi and are eager to have you be part of the conversation.

Download File (TIF)

 Attached Files:
GLI framework.tif (180.23 KB)

Tags:  Africa  capacity development  entrepreneurship  impact investing  Malawi  Women  women's economic empowerment 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

SEAF Launches Gender Equality Scorecard ©

Posted By Robert Webster, Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), Monday, August 27, 2018

SEAF Launches Gender Equality Scorecard ©

 

Washington, D.C. (August 27, 2018)

 

SEAF, the emerging market impact investing firm, has announced the launch of its proprietary Gender Equality Scorecard (“GES”), which will be a vital tool to support the promotion and achievement of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in SEAF’s global investments.  The GES is initially being piloted in SEAF’s investments in Southeast Asia and it is expected to be used eventually across SEAF’s world-wide, impact investing platform.

                               

Jennifer Buckley, SEAF Senior Managing Director, stated, “SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard is launched with the conviction that those firms that realize internal gender equality in terms of compensation, leadership and other factors are superior financial performers and powerful drivers of women’s economic empowerment.  In this way, SEAF sees enormous potential in using the GES to create shared value for women, investors and entrepreneurs.”

 

SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard will assess potential and existing SEAF investees on gender equality, scoring across six key gender equality vectors:  pay equity, leadership and governance, workforce participation, benefits and professional development, workplace environment, and women-powered value chains.  These assessments will identify opportunities to improve gender equality and hence guide SEAF’s critical post-investment value creation work.

 

The Scorecard was born out of SEAF’s current gender lens investing initiative, the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund.  This Fund was launched in partnership with the Investing in Women (“IW”) initiative of the Australian government and focuses on women-led/owned businesses in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.  The Criterion Institute, the gender lens investing think tank and an IW partner, has played a critical role in GES’ development.

 

“SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard represents an exciting and innovative development to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in the impact investing space,” explained Joy Anderson, President and Founder, Criterion Institute. “We are delighted to partner with SEAF and look forward to the GES’ continued development and influence.”

 

Bob Webster, SEAF Managing Director, said, “The Gender Equality Scorecard is the next key step in our gender lens investing journey and we look forward to working with our partners, including future stakeholders such as asset managers and academic institutions, in assessing its validity and improving it over time.  After its pilot use in the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund, its use will be expanded to SEAF’s next generation of gender lens investing initiatives, which are currently under development.”

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  creating shared value  emerging market  financial inclusion  gender equality  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive business  innovation  womenCreating Shared Value  women's economic empowerment 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

BCtA Webinar Series: Women’s Economic Empowerment and Inclusive Business

Posted By Nazila Vali, Business Call to Action at UNDP, Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018

WHAT CAN BUSINESS DO FOR WOMEN AND WHAT CAN WOMEN DO FOR BUSINESS:

A Perspective from and for the Base of the Pyramid to Enhance Economic Opportunities for Women and Accelerate the Realization of the SDGs.

 
1st Webinar: Tuesday 30th Jan 2018, 4:00-5:00 pm (GMT+3)
2nd Webinar: Tuesday 6th Feb 2018, 4:00-5:00 pm (GMT+3)
3rd Webinar: Tuesday 13th Feb 2018, 4:00-5:00 pm (GMT+3)

We are excited to announce BCtA’s new webinar series featuring presentations and discussions with key experts who have helped to empower women at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) market through their research, products or services development, policy or advocacy work. This is a unique chance to engage on both conceptual and practical issues around women’s economic empowerment for the BOP market.

The initiative is built on the recognition that there is a documented business case for the private sector to actively engage women as consumers, producers, suppliers, distributors of goods and services or employees. Women’s empowerment is a prerequisite, as much as it is an outcome, for achieving all the SDGs. Our webinars will demonstrate that businesses can be profitable and contribute to a company’s overall objectives while also helping to serve the interests of women at the BOP. 

Webinar discussions will feed into an insight report that will provide a comprehensive knowledge base to better understand the needs of BOP women at the BOP, thus informing and improving future programme and product design.

1ST WEBINAR | Women’s Economic Empowerment: the (Inclusive) Business Case
  • Aditi Mohapatra, Director, Women’s Empowerment at BSR
  • Anna Falth, Global Programme Manager, Empower Women at UN Women
  • Katy Lindquist, Communications Executive at AFRIpads
Moderated by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action
To register and read more click here

2ND WEBINAR | Women's Economic Empowerment: Navigating Enablers and Constraints
  • Georgia Taylor, Technical Director at WISE Development     
  • Mashook Mujib Chowdhury, Deputy Manager, Sustainability, at DBL Group  
  • Nicole Voillat, Group Sustainability Director at Bata Brands
Moderated by Carmen Lopez-Clavero, Programme Manager Specialist, Private Sector and Economic Development at Sida
To register and read more click here

3RD WEBINAR | Women’s Economic Empowerment: Measuring Inclusive Businesses Impact   
  • Dr Catherine Dolan, Reader in Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, Visiting Scholar at Saïd Business School
  • Diana Gutierrez, Global Programme Manager, Gender Equality Seal for Private Sector Global at UNDP     
  • Anuj Mehra, Managing Director at Mahindra Rural Housing Finance Limited, India
  • Vava Angwenyi, Founder, Vava Coffee LTD, Kenya
Moderated by Nazila Vali, Knowledge and Partnerships Lead, Business Call to Action at UNDP
To register and read more click here

You will have the opportunity to share questions and comments when registering, during the webinar itself, and immediately following via a post-event feedback form.

We hope you can join us! Space is limited, so please register via the link below:

REGISTER HERE

Tags:  business  inclusive business  sustainability  wee  women  women's economic empowerment 

PermalinkComments (0)