As development finance institutions (DFIs) playing a role in providing capital to support gender equality, the value of women in leadership and markets and women’s economic empowerment worldwide, in 2018 we launched the Gender Finance Collaborative, hosted initially by CDC Group, to support the development of shared financing principles, definitions and methodologies that promote the integration of “gender smart” decision-making into our investment processes and our own operations.
While each DFI is on its own journey with varying commitments and levels of capacity, our collective goal is to increase the strategic impact of investment capital toward women as business and fund leaders, entrepreneurs, a strong and valued workforce, consumers and community members.
The Collaborative consists of 14 DFIs plus the European Investment Bank (EIB). There is a steering committee of five DFIs , currently chaired by CDC, plus a coordinating team led by external advisers Suzanne Biegel and Carey Bohjanen. The full membership meets four times per year and also liaises in smaller sub-groups relating to issue-specific working groups and initiatives.
Through collaborative dialogue and a shared commitment to action, we aim to advance the standard and the vision for the future of gender smart investing and to move more capital, more strategically, from within the DFI community and our private sector co-investors. We are committed to increasing our own collective knowledge and capacity as well as that of our investees.
Some of our activities include:
• Developing principles, financing criteria and due diligence tools to guide our investment decisions toward supporting gender equality, the value of women in leadership and markets and women’s economic empowerment in our portfolios;
• Sharing strategies, case studies and lessons learned from our portfolios to collectively build knowledge about best practices for gender smart investing (and to continue to build and prove the commercial case for investing in women);
• Support increased numbers of women in leadership among our investees by ensuring that an active effort is made to identify and consider qualified women candidates in recruitment processes that we oversee on behalf of our investee companies (for Board or Management Team positions);
• Collaborating on gender smart co-investment opportunities;
• Raising awareness and collaborating with the wider investing community, investees and partner organizations with regard to our actions and impact through effective communication; and
• Developing a solid understanding of the organisations and individuals in the field who may be external resources for our organisations as we move to do more of this work with our investees.
We believe that the opportunities to integrate an explicit gender strategy in our work are vast and mission critical. The geographies, tools, sectors, and themes of each DFI vary but we are unified in our commitment to the achievement of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment through our actions and investments. Some of our members have published about their high-level gender strategies and activities externally. Others are rapidly emerging as they develop their gender strategies, capacity and processes. Whilst we are currently more internally focused as a community of practice, we will selectively share our learning and experience with others outside the group.
The Collaborative is committed to supporting and sharing experiences with each other in context of the unique needs of the DFI community and the internal and external capacity building required to advance this work. The group also seeks to support the development of the field by partnering with other relevant organisations, programmes and initiatives.
The Collaborative has a linkage to the G7 2X Challenge which was announced in June 2018 as the key organising members of the 2X Challenge are members of the Collaborative.
A Joint Commitment Statement for the Collaborative has been developed, agreed and signed by most of the members with others in process.