Gender Lens Investing (GLI) is a strategy or approach to investing that takes into consideration gender-based factors across the investment process to advance gender equality and better inform investment decisions.
In celebration of Women’s Day this month of March, Diana Gichaga, Managing Partner of Private Equity Support sat down with Carolyne Sigei, Investment Manager, Iungo Capital B.V to discuss Gender Lens investing and how this is impacting access to finance for women led businesses.
DG: Why is Gender Lens investing important, specifically for SMEs in Africa?
CS: Gender Lens investing is important as it seeks to address the inherent biases against women that exist worldwide.
Gender Lens is a timely agenda for SMEs in Africa as it not only aims to create access to finance for women centered businesses but also promotes direct and indirect benefits for the larger community.
Gender Lens Investing also allows the incorporation of other important aspects such as women leadership, support to enterprises, workforce equality and decent work opportunities.
DG: There are several initiatives targeting women led/owned businesses yet the funding deployed still lags behind. What can we do to increase the amount of funding deployed to women owned or led businesses?
CS: Investors can be intentional about designing funding products with specific criteria targeting women owned/led businesses. This does not mean simplifying the criteria but breaking down the criteria to describe the different aspects that constitute Gender Lens investing.
There can also be increased partnership between investors and technical assistance providers. Where some women businesses do not immediately meet the qualifying criteria, a focused pre-investment exercise can be introduced to ensure they are ready for investment in the near future.
DG: What are some of the positive changes you have witnessed in how women led or owned businesses are funded?
CS: It has been very rewarding seeing various investors both big and small publicly declaring their support for women led/owned businesses.
Through this, the institutions have become catalysts in creating awareness amongst their peers. Increasingly, investors have included in their assessment a broadened criteria seeking to identify the opportunities that lie in investing in women owned/led businesses.
DG: Thanks Carolyne for sharing these insights. Any parting remarks on this
CS: Everyone has a part to play in advancing the Gender Lens agenda. As an investment professional I have a personal commitment to expand my deal sourcing strategies to target and include women owned/led businesses.
Investment professional with a keen interest in Development Finance. My interests in development finance have guided me through my education and work experience. Growing up I always dreamt of being a doctor but little did I know that my career would take me on a path of ‘healing ‘companies through finance. Over the years, I have interacted with many brilliant entrepreneurs in the SME space and I have found it truly rewarding seeing the business plans come to life not forgetting the joy that comes with achievement of milestones. I have a personal belief in helping others, paying it forward and going above what is expected of me whenever I can; doing so with a big smile! I embrace continuous learning and look at each experience as an opportunity to learn, unlearn or improve.
“Help others rise; greatness comes not from a position, but from helping build the future. We have an obligation to pull others up – Indra Nooyi”