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.

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10 Comments

  • This article really brings the issue to gender inequality to light. As a woman, it frustrates me that men and women are not treated the same, both socially and economically. What makes it even more frustrating is that many women in other countries are facing this dilemma, however they do not get the same amount of media attention as the United States or countries in Europe. It is extremely important to bring awareness about all of the women in the world, and inspire them to dream bigger. By creating opportunities for these women, women can start taking control of their own lives and gender inequality can start becoming a concept of the past.

  • This article shows the impact that women can make in the world and as humans we must show kindness, generosity, and support our women’s endeavors for global change. Women are not treated equally as men are in society and we must change this because its 2015 and we must press play and make bigger steps toward a better and more enlightened gender neutral society. We must culturally educate many men and display to them the drive and enthusiasm women have to aspire for change. We must help our women and be real to our woman as we improve our society.

  • How does the “glass ceiling” for women in Asian countries differ from that in the US. Will you be applying some of the initiatives that are being tried here in the US or does each country provide unique challenges to empowering women in their economies and culture?

  • Lean In ASEAN! I’m participating in the 2015 ASEAN Women’s Entrepreneur Forum in Hanoi and these
    committed women entrepreneurs from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are really advancing their business growth by ensuring empowered women in their workplaces and supply chains! More on their efforts as our blog series continues…

  • While I believe the disparities between men and women are truly great in different societies, it goes both ways. The question I pose to you is how do you plan to implement strategies that promote true equality for both genders?

  • Awareness is a major component in understanding and correcting gender
    inequalities. The focal points, and therefore solutions, of what causes
    this to be the case may or may not be different when comparing the best
    way to resolve the problem per locale. Keeping a realistic and
    open-minded viewpoint about what needs to be done will help ensure that
    that the true issues in an area are addressed.

  • As countries in Asia look to maintain their growth rates they must put policies in place giving women equal opportunity in terms of getting both debt and equity funding. The research is clear, women make better borrowers, have better networks off of which to build and are more likely to start a business. Banks need to understand this and cater specifically to women. Setting up special lending units would be a good start. As much as I dislike quotas banks need to at least set yearly targets increasing every year until they have good gender balance in their portfolios. Governments need to eliminate discriminatory lending regulations such as requiring husbands to co-sign on loans. Active programs which will help move women owned businesses from micro to small and small to medium sized businesses. Putting policies and systems like these into place will enable countries to increase their growth rates by 2 or more percent. Everyone will benefit not just women.

  • While changing investment portfolios and access to credit that allows for women to get more equitable access to financial instruments are very important we also have to look at the very structure of the world of work. It continues to be organized around men, ignoring the fact that women still have major responsibility for caring and dometric responsibilities. These responsibilities make it difficult ( but not impossible) for women, especially younger married women, to invest as much time in their businesses as men – unless they have egalitarian partners or are able to subordinate other women to take on these domestic routines (the literature on the gendered aspects of immigration are well worth looking into here). How does gender lens investing address the issues of the ways in which work is organized or suggest radical ways of reorganizing it?

  • These really shows the impact women have in this world. Reading this article, even though I’m a man, really opens my eyes.

  • Women play a significant role in how the world is handled today. Ever since the beginning of man-kind, woman have been the ones who initiated the mind sets of young children. Then as societies grew, women had more influence on their children, which helped with the turnout of those children, and the chain reaction just kept moving. Focusing help on women is going to help men and women of the next generation, and it will just be a domino effect from there out. Great article to read.