The rise of Gender-Smart Investing

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Pioneering Gender-Smart Investing Summit highlights an exponential growth in gender lens investors investing in women-led companies or initiatives that improve the lives of women and girls across the globe.

As the latest figures reveal the movement of gender-smart capital has soared since 2017, global thought leaders united in London this month to tip the scales in the fight for equality.

The world’s first Gender-Smart Investing Summit saw 300 venture capitalists, asset managers, institutional investors, NGOs, and entrepreneurs from around the world gather to examine how more capital can be channelled to accelerate positive change towards one of the most critical social issues of our time: achieving gender equality, globally.

Gender-lens investing soars

This was after data revealed:

• A scan of private equity, venture, and debt funds in the second “Project Sage” report showed that the total capital raised has cleared £1.72bn ($2.2bn), up 73% from £1bn ($1.3bn) in 2017
• Project Sage 2.0 in 2018 identified 87 total funds deploying capital with a gender lens, up 50% from 58 in 2017
• Gender lens investing in publicly traded market strategies grew strongly in the 12 months ending June 30, 2018, rising 85% to a record £1.87 ($2.4bn), according to analysis by Veris Wealth Partners that was supported by Catalyst at Large

>See also: UBS gender equality ETF passes $100m milestone

Geographical appeal broadens

The number of explicit gender lens mandate strategies holding publicly traded securities has also continued to increase. In 2014, Veris identified eight investing vehicles. As of mid-year 2018, the number had more than quadrupled to 35. From a publicly listed side, the product growth is mainly in Europe, the US and Canada; with notable activity in South Asia, India, Africa and with Australia taking the lead on gender bonds.

Noteworthy strides

Amongst those making strides in Gender-Smart Investing are the G7 2X Challenge, the commitment from the G7 Development Finance Institutions to mobilise £2.4bn ($3bn) in capital by 2020 towards women; and The Billion Dollar Fund for Women (TBDF), a global consortium of blended finance partners committed to accelerating access to £780m ($1bn) of funding and resources for women entrepreneurs over the next 10 years, globally.

>See also: Women in asset management

“The time has definitely come for Gender-smart investing as an idea. The Summit will give us the opportunity to mobilise more capital across asset classes that is already making a hugely positive impact on advancing gender equality globally. We are so excited to be able to unite those who are moving significant capital strategically and thought leaders with additional experience and insight to collaborate and share a commitment to action.
“We’re at a crucial tipping point. We need to make it easier for more investors to access financial vehicles and platforms with a gender lens. And we need to educate businesses on why it’s in their benefit to promote gender equality in their own business.

“Momentum is on our side. There is a groundswell growing from investors as well as demand from those seeking capital and new partnerships, and the opportunities are becoming more present. If we continue at this rate then we could see mass adoption within five years, moving from what has been seen as a niche to the mainstream. The opportunity is real, both for gender equality and for providing sound financial returns.” Suzanne Biegel, pioneering gender lens investor and co-founder of the Gender-Smart Investing Summit

 

“Gender-smart investing contributes to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 of gender equality by channelling capital to organisations and projects that promote women’s empowerment. UBS is committed to supporting this goal as a key part of the unique sustainable and impact investments that we offer our clients.

“This Summit played important role in furthering the goals of gender-smart investing by bringing together a diverse group of professionals who can drive real social and economic change.” Rachel Whittaker, Sustainable Investing Strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management

About the Gender-Smart Investing Summit

The world’s first global Gender-Smart Investing Summit, presented by Founding Partner UBS alongside an extraordinary group of champions of the gender-smart investing movement, is an opportunity for leaders and changemakers from a range of disciplines and regions to collaborate. That is true whether a delegate’s primary focus is on gender equality or the power of women making markets; or whether their commitment is around climate change, economic opportunity, education, health, human rights, or other issues.