In the impact space, we frequently consider the social impact of our investments. A tangible way of looking at impact is through environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics. Many of our peers focus specifically on the gender lens, a social metric in the ESG framework. Check out the following recent articles that discuss the tangible impact of gender lens investing and the admirable work of our peers.
WIN-WIN 2.0: Connecting gender lens investing with clean tech by Najada Kumbuli on Nextbillion
In 2012, the Calvert Foundation launched the Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN) with a goal to raise capital from investors to invest $20 million in organizations that empower women and girls globally. The investment portfolio is designed with gender-specific indicators to track the impact generated from the portfolio organizations. Through the investments in social enterprises like The Paradigm Project and Envirofit International, Calvert found that traditional sources of household energy in emerging markets (notably kerosene and wood-burning cookstoves) pose serious health risks to those exposed, specifically to women and children.
To address this issue, the Calvert Foundation has committed to investing an additional $20 million through WIN-WIN in organizations and enterprises that provide clean household technologies and fuels. These solutions, including cookstoves, solar-powered lights, and rechargeable batteries, have become a source of economic empowerment for women and girls while improving their health and living environments.
In a recent interview, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, director of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) fellowship program in Kenya, spoke about AWARD’s work supporting the careers of female agricultural scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is facing a rapid expansion in agricultural production in response to the need to feed the growing population. Rutenberg believes that it is important to invest in female researchers as women currently produce the majority of Africa’s food yet are extremely underrepresented in agricultural R&D.
Willy Foote, founder and CEO of Root Capital, believes that women across the economic spectrum are critical to unlocking long-term economic development. Through working in agriculture and supporting rural enterprises, Foote has seen a significant impact on women’s economic empowerment yet has always wondered how Root Capital’s loans and financial training supports women differently than men and how they could begin to address existing barriers and improve their impact on women in the long run.
Root Capital adopted a gender lens to explore opportunities in agricultural finance and launched the “Women in Agriculture Initiative” in 2012 based on the belief that gender-inclusive businesses can create greater financial and social impact. The first major task was to measure clients’ performance related to gender inclusion. They found that most approaches to women’s economic empowerment have focused on business leaders and women workers at the base of the pyramid, but largely ignored women in middle management positions. To address this, Root Capital released an issue brief, Applying a Gender Lens to Agriculture. The brief discusses the tier of women employees named “hidden influencers” who largely go unnoticed but are critical to a business’ success. It also evaluates how financial products and training programs impact women compared to men and use these findings to explain their approach to gender lens investing.
A Gender Lens for Giving: Women in Philanthropy Urged to Invest More in Women and Girls by Tom Watson on Forbes
A recent report released by Women Moving Millions is requesting that women in philanthropy apply an explicit gender lens to charitable giving and investing. The report argues that putting money to work to empower women and girls is the key to solving the world’s greatest problems; including poverty, climate change and conflict. Currently, only 7% of all philanthropic dollars are invested specifically in programs for women and girls yet women control 27% of the world’s wealth. The Boston Consulting Group estimated that by 2030, women-controlled wealth will be $75.4 trillion based on an annual growth rate of 6%. This means that women’s charitable giving could reach $1 trillion per year by 2026 if women gave at 1.7% of their disposable income, the lowest percentage on record in the US in the last 40 years. The report is framed as a call to action, asking that women with financial power use it and begin to give and invest with a gender lens.
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