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Investing in Women


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This is the first of a two-part blog series from Global Partnerships about women and impact investing.

By KJ Zunigha, Impact Evaluation Officer, Global Partnerships

 

Women all over the developing world play vital roles in cash management, making daily decisions on how to spend their limited resources on food, healthcare, and other necessities. Studies continue to highlight that investing in women not only positively impacts the individual, but her family and community as well.

 

The unfortunate irony is that women are disproportionately excluded from access to vital opportunities, such as financial inclusion.

 

Global Partnerships is committed to expanding opportunities for people living in poverty and is particularly focused on investing in women.

 

Below are a few ways GP thoughtfully invests in women: ensuring partners are tailoring products and services for women, delivering products in an effective way, and making a tangible impact. 

 

Tailored Products and Services 

 

Global Partnerships seeks out investable partners that are not just reaching women, but that are also designing products and services specifically for women. These organizations work to understand the needs, habits, obstacles, and daily decisions faced by women living in poverty, and design their loan products and services to better reach and provide opportunities for women.

 

A critical product currently providing opportunities for women living in poverty is microcredit, allowing women to start or grow their own microenterprises. Microcredit on its own, however, is not always enough to help people overcome poverty – we believe that credit bundled with additional, value-added services is more impactful in the long-run.

 

Value-added services include access to health services, a savings account, as well as business and financial education. When evaluating education programs, GP looks at how topics will take into account the potential knowledge gaps, sensitivities, and information needs of women.

 

Additionally, GP’s investments aim to resolve issues of stigma, finances, or distance that might exclude women from health services. Some of our partners provide preventive health education as well as access to cervical cancer screenings, low-cost family health insurance products, and mobile medical and dental brigades for the whole family.

 

Tailored Delivery Method

 

GP seeks out social enterprises who understand how to deliver tailored products and services to women in effective ways. Many women in poverty are often outright excluded from access to key opportunities, but sometimes it is also a matter of poorly designed delivery methods.

 

For example, one way to reach women living in poverty is through a group lending platform. Village banks and solidarity groups are two such mechanisms to reach women previously excluded from traditional financial services. Village banks allow members to share risk with a group of 15-30 women from the same community and do not require collateral on the loan. Women who may not have control of household assets are thus able to enter into a village bank without collateral. Sharing risks with known community members and neighbors builds trust and accountability within the group. This is one reason why village banks have such high repayment rates.

 

As part of a group, women also have the opportunity to learn from their peers and support one another. The value of being part of a group also provides a sense of belonging, and an additional setting where their voice can be heard and valued, particularly in many cultures where discrimination against women occurs. Having a safe, welcoming place to talk about domestic abuse, gender-based prejudice, as well as dreams and successes can have a powerful, positive impact for these women.

 

Defining and Measuring Our Impact

 

The products and delivery methods described above result from thoughtful work behind the scenes to understand what impact GP is having on the lives of women. GP has invested in a commitment to women, with a mandate to ensure all work operates with a gender lens.

 

As part of this commitment, GP has a dedicated Impact & Research Team which ensures that investments are maximized, by determining what works, why, for whom, and under what circumstances. GP looks at the existing evidence base, industry and sector experts, and learns alongside its partners to inform and evolve strategy. This allows GP to better target investments and maximize impact. In addition to evolving current investments, GP also researches new products, services, delivery channels, and populations to expand impact in more inclusive and effective methods. From researching new initiatives to measuring existing initiatives, GP is constantly refining and expanding work based on this analysis.

 

Combined, these three strategies allow GP to reach more women, have a deeper impact, and continue to improve results. To see the social impact of GP investment initiatives, please view our Annual Impact Update.

Investing in Women

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