Investment stakeholders commit to addressing gender equality

By Lydia NgwakweStakeholders in the investment space have expressed commitment to address the barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the impact investing sector.

Impact investing is defined as the deployment of funds into investments that generate a measurable and beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return on investment.

The stakeholders made this known at the inaugural gender impact investment summit, organised by the Impact Investors Foundation (IIF) and the Nigeria National Board for Impact Investment, on Thursday, in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the summit which brought together over 300 stakeholders in the impact investing space had the theme: “Closing the Gender Financing Gap in Nigeria.

The summit, which also discussed policies needed to unlock opportunities, saw participants making commitments to reducing the gender financing gap in Nigeria.

They also proposed gender targets for investee companies, building pipelines of female fund managers, and actionable policies to streamline gender inclusion.

The stakeholders also expressed commitment to creating opportunities for women to access finance, enhance the awareness of gender-lens investing, and expand networking and partnerships.

Dr Betta Edu, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, emphasised the need for gender lens investing, an investment strategy that intentionally considers the positive or negative impact of an investment on gender equality.

Edu called for concrete steps to increase women’s participation across the impact investing value chains from asset owners to fund managers.

The minister was represented at the event by Carol Nelson-Atuonwo, Special Adviser (Strategy).

“Closing the financial gap for women in Nigeria is achievable and will entail concerted efforts in policy making, capacity building on gender mainstreaming and continuous engagement with all actors and stakeholders with focus on tackling the root causes,” Edu said.

The Chairman, Impact Investors Foundation (IIF), Mr Afolabi Oladele, noted that there was a problem with widespread access to finance, especially for women in Northern Nigeria.

Oladele said, “Women still struggle with baseline needs, particularly in the North and this affects the balance.

Women generally earn less than men even when they do the same job as the men.

Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairperson, Nigerian National Advisory Board for Impact Investing (NABII), who spoke virtually, called for gender inclusivity in boards of corporate organisations to drive profitability.

Mr Tunde Mabawonku, Executive Director, Retail and Digital Bank, Wema Bank, encouraged participants, especially women, to make the right investment choice and be deliberate in their plans to succeed in their careers and their businesses.

Ms Thelma Ekiyor Olu-Solanke, Chair SME.

NG/Member, NABII, while delivering a micro talk on the topic: “The Nigerian NABII Agenda on Gender and Financing Women through the Wholesale Impact Investment Fund (WIIF), said the WIIF was designed to address specific issues around building the ecosystem for impact financing in Nigeria.

According to her, the Nigerian NABII is intentional about incorporating women-led impact projects and will support women in new and underserved markets.

“The Federal Government has committed 50 per cent to the fund.

We are looking forward to reaching the $1 billion benchmark by the first quarter of 2024,” she added.

Earlier, Ms Etemore Glover, Chief Executive Officer, IIF and NABII, said: “The summit marks an important milestone in collectively addressing the $320 billion financing gap facing African female fund managers and entrepreneurs.

“IIF remains committed to driving gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s impact investing ecosystem.

’’Other speakers at the event include the Managing Director and Co-Founder, Alithea Capital,
Tokunboh Ishmael; Gwen Abiola-Oloke, CEO, DI Africa; and Toni Sanni, Head Corporate Finance and Venture Capital, Emerging Africa Group, among others.

IIF’s commitment to driving gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s impact investing ecosystem are important step towards bridging this gap and creating a more equitable future for all.

Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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