Overview: Convergence has awarded a grant to Women’s World Banking Asset Management (WAM) to design the Women’s World Banking Capital Partners Fund II (“WWBCP II”) as well as a pioneering methodology for assessing gender gaps among the staff and client base of the companies it invests in. Investing in the financial inclusion of low-income women can lead to long-term, inter-generational change, as women are more likely to invest in education for their children, better housing, nutrition, and healthcare for their families.
WWBCP II aims to improve women’s financial inclusion through a blended approach, by leveraging concessional equity to attract commercial investors to invest in women-focused financial services providers in emerging markets, including low-income countries and fragile states. The $100M Fund will invest in financial services providers that offer products and services in areas such as SME financing, smallholder finance, affordable housing, education, and insurance. While it is a global fund, the largest allocations will be in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia. WWBCP II will build on WAM’s first fund, WWB Capital Partners, which was the world’s first women-managed $50M traditional private equity fund investing exclusively in women-focused financial services providers. The new Fund is not only expected to reach more women in more countries with a more diverse set of products and services, but it will go one step further by methodically supporting its investees in applying a critical gender lens to their operations. WAM will develop a Gender Assessment Methodology that will evaluate both a company’s outreach to the low-income women’s market (including its product design, marketing, delivery channels, consumer/financial education programs) and the company’s own gender-diversity among staff and leadership.
Design question and learning potential for the market: How can a new standardized methodology encourage a wide set of investors to apply a gender-lens to their investment strategies, and help build the financial and social case for investing in women?
The Gender Assessment Methodology aims to be one of the most standardized and comprehensive methodologies in the market. As part of the design of WWBCP II, WAM will refine and optimize its existing strategies and tools, which evaluates i) an institution’s outreach to the low-income women’s market (product design, marketing, delivery channels and education programs), and ii) an institution’s gender-diversity among staff and leadership (recruitment, retention, reward and promotion of women). In addition to administering the Methodology, WWBCP II will monitor investees’ execution of their gender action plans, measure the results, and publish the learnings and best practices to the broader market as a public good. The Methodology and learnings will be made available to other investors and financial institutions to support market-wide learning on how to improve services to women and develop gender-diverse talent.