Gender Lens Investing

Investing with a Gender Lens

noellestclair-199x300Earlier this month, I had the privilege of representing Calvert Foundation at an event organized by Women Effect Investments, an initiative of Criterion Ventures. This gathering drew over 60 powerful female leaders and was centered on the concept of gender lens investing.

What is gender lens investing? Consider how a lens allows one to focus - to see more clearly. In an investment context, focusing our lens on gender calls our attention to the unique value that is created when we invest in women and girls. At the event, Jackie VanderBrug of Criterion Ventures explained that gender lens investing includes three components: Access to Capital, Workplace Equity, and Products and Services.

Organizations such as Acumen Fund, Golden Seeds and Women’s World Banking discussed the vehicles they are using to mobilize investment capital to support and empower women. I was proud to represent Calvert Foundation and introduce our new project, WIN-WIN: the Women INvesting in Women INitiative. WIN-WIN excited the crowd because it specifically addresses each of the three components to gender lens investing.

Access to Capital: Deeply embedded in Calvert Foundation's mission and purpose is a belief that all people should have access to capital. For over 16 years we have been working in partnership with others who share this belief to provide access to capital in underserved communities. Through our partnerships with microfinance institutions and CDFIs, we have seen that when women experience economic gain, so do their families and communities. WIN-WIN will make $20 million available to organizations and projects that create opportunities for women around the world.

Workplace Equity: We believe that WIN-WIN investments will have catalytic effects, expanding beyond their immediate intended impact. Over time, we will evaluate the changes that occur as a result of our work - the delta effect. We expect the investments we make to create new jobs for women, influence organizations to increase the amount of female clients they serve, and increase female representation on management teams and in board rooms.

Products and Services: Lastly, WIN-WIN will provide products and services not only to women in need, but also to people who want to join us by investing to provide opportunity for women around the world. For as little as $20, individuals can invest in WIN-WIN to receive a financial AND social return.

If someone has ever invested in your dreams and future, consider paying it forward by investing in a woman looking to make her own future brighter. If you would rather pay back that person who cared enough to invest in you, show them your appreciation by making a donation to WIN-WIN in their honor. Together we can create the change that we are seeking.

Follow Noelle St.Clair on Twitter: @noLstclair.