We come from two relatively different worlds. Patty from the world of international development, grounded tactically in finding solutions through a broad range of partnerships and approaches. Joy from the world of impact investing and social entrepreneurship, thinking about finance as a tool for social change. Both of us care deeply about addressing the inequities facing women and girls.

We want to expand the orientation of leadership of the field of gender lens investing. What does the field of actors and opportunities around gender lens investing in Asia look like? Our scoping exercise covers field work in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. That’s the story we’re here to tell.
 

We want to expand the orientation of leadership in the field of gender lens investing to Asia. Tweet This Quote

Which investment players matter? We intentionally kept the scope broad to include philanthropic dollars, government dollars, and private investment dollars. We also want to make sure we don’t just talk to the money. We want to talk to those who understand gender, who have the analytical skills or the data to see how gender dynamics work in the world.

Before our field work in Asia, sandwiches in hand, our first conversation was with Colman Chamberlain of the Nike Foundation in Bryant Park in New York City. Skillfully ducking incoming pigeons, Colman said: “Please don’t just go around talking to people and identifying issues; make this practical, move something forward!” The challenge Colman offered resonated with both of us, so we set off to find 200 people and identify at least five opportunities to actually move the field forward in Asia.

Gender Lens Investing

In conversations we offer one of two definitions: Gender analysis incorporated into financial analysis, or finance as a tool for social change to address key gender inequities. Where are the data and analytics that could make your investments smarter? When is finance a useful approach for achieving inclusive social good?

When is finance a useful approach for achieving inclusive social good? Tweet This Quote

Could we uncover opportunities and make connections that could lead to tangible results by offering gender lens investing as a new frame of analysis and action? We encountered two very robust fields that until now had not intersected: there is deep expertise in non-governmental organizations, in research organizations, in governments, in a set of people thinking about bringing a gender analysis to a specific field of work, gender in health, gender in energy, gender in democracy. And, there is deep expertise (and often entrenched thinking) in the field of finance.

"As the primary owners of capital, men make most impact investment decisions — at Sankhya we believe that real progress involves taking a step to change the paradigm — not to exclude men but to include women. Our funds are managed by women, we will raise capital from women and we will invest in social enterprises that benefit women."

Profile: “As the primary owners of capital, men make most impact investment decisions—at Sankhya we believe that real progress involves taking a step to change the paradigm—not to exclude men but to include women. Our funds are managed by women, we will raise capital from women and we will invest in social enterprises that benefit women.” – Reena V Mithal, Managing Director, Sankhya Partners

Over the next few blogs in this series we will be playing out these opportunities, including valuing women as entrepreneurs and gender as a key dimension of enterprise growth. How gaps in reaching underserved markets of women and girls require products that improve their lives and process innovations. How women entrepreneurs can move beyond talking about their individual business models to developing a social impact investment fund for women entrepreneurs across ASEAN.

How women entrepreneurs can move beyond talking about their individual business models to developing a social impact investment fund for women entrepreneurs across ASEAN. Tweet This Quote

We welcome your comments and questions, so please enter them below. And help us spread the word about gender lens investing. Everyone gains from it, so join in!


Editor’s note: Click here to see the rest of Joy and Patty’s series exploring entrepreneurship and investing in Asia through a gender-lens.

About the author

Patty Alleman & Joy Anderson

Patty Alleman & Joy Anderson

Patty Alleman is the Senior Regional Gender Advisor for USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia, and Joy Anderson is the founding president of Criterion Institute, a research and education nonprofit that broadens who and what matters in reinventing the economy. Their writings are on their travels in Asia as they seek to map the landscape, meet the players, and build a foundation for gender equality by investing in women and girls.