Innovation and entrepreneurship, when supported by social impact investing, create a leapfrog effect on people, planet, prosperity and partnerships.
The importance of supporting women was one of the main leitmotivs of the Africa Impact Investing Leaders Forum, held in London on 27 Oct, 2016. Delegates asserted that this historically disempowered group plays a pivotal and well-documented role in augmenting positive social, economic and environmental outcomes – particularly when impact investments find their way into microfinance, agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors.
Women are integral to social impact investing
Speaking from the podium, Suzanne Biegel, founder of Women Effect, urged all investors to use a “gender lens” when considering impact ventures. And to ask some salient, due diligence questions, such as: “Where are the women in this investment? Are they on the product design team if the product concept is for women? Do they have a formal leadership or decision-making role where the project in question is targeting women”?
Caroline Mulwa, Kenya country manager of social impact investor, Oikocredit, agrees wholeheartedly with this view. Referencing the smallholder agriculture sector, she says: “88% of Africa’s female population live in rural areas; 70% of agricultural labour is provided by women; 90% of all food is produced by women, but women own less than 2% of the land. Yet women have a significant, measurable, positive impact on small business ventures, local communities and families. And they have been proven to reduce investment risks”.