By Lydia Ngwakwe
Investment industry stakeholders have expressed their commitment to removing barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the impact investment sector.
Impact investing is defined as the deployment of funds in investments that generate a measurable and beneficial social or environmental impact as well as a financial return on investment.
Stakeholders made this known at the first Gender Impact Investing Summit, organized on Thursday in Lagos by the Impact Investors Foundation (IIF) and the Nigerian National Council for Impact Investing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit which brought together over 300 impact investing stakeholders was themed: “Closing the Gender Funding Gap in Nigeria”.
The summit, which also discussed policies needed to unlock opportunities, saw participants commit to reducing the gender financing gap in Nigeria.
They also proposed gender targets for the companies they invest in, the creation of reserves of female fund managers and concrete policies to streamline gender inclusion.
Stakeholders also expressed their commitment to creating opportunities for women to access finance, increasing awareness of gender-responsive investments and developing networks and partnerships.
Dr Betta Edu, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, highlighted the need for gender lens investing, an investment strategy that intentionally takes into account the positive or negative impact of an investment on gender equality.
Edu called for concrete measures to increase the participation of women in impact investment 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 require concerted efforts in policy development, capacity building on gender mainstreaming and continued engagement with all actors and stakeholders by putting the focus on tackling root causes,” Edu said.
The President of the Impact Investors Foundation (IIF), Mr. Afolabi Oladele, noted that there was a problem of widespread access to finance, especially for women in northern Nigeria.
Oladele said: “Women still struggle to meet their basic needs, especially in the North, and this affects the balance. Women generally earn less than men, even when they do the same work as men.
Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, Nigerian National Advisory Board for Impact Investing (NABII), who spoke virtually, called for gender inclusion in corporate boards to boost profitability.
Mr. Tunde Mabawonku, Executive Director of Retail and Digital Banking, Wema Bank, encouraged participants, especially women, to make the right investment choice and be deliberate in their plans to achieve success in their careers and businesses .
Ms. Thelma Ekiyor Olu-Solanke, SME.NG President/NABII Member, during a micro-conference on the topic: “NABII Nigerian Agenda on Gender and Women’s Financing through the Women’s Investment Fund Wholesale Impact Fund (WIIF), said the WIIF was designed to address specific issues related to building the ecosystem for impact financing in Nigeria.
According to her, the Nigerian NABII intends to incorporate women-led impact projects and will support women in new and underserved markets.
“The federal government has committed 50 percent to the fund. We look forward to reaching the $1 billion milestone by the first quarter of 2024,” she added.
Earlier, Ms. Etemore Glover, Chief Executive Officer of the IIF and NABII, said: “The summit marks an important milestone in collectively addressing the $320 billion funding gap faced by women fund managers and entrepreneurs Africans.
“The IIF remains committed to promoting gender-inclusive practices in the impact investment ecosystem in Nigeria.
Other speakers at the event include Alithea Capital Managing Director and Co-Founder,
Tokunboh Ishmael; Gwen Abiola-Oloke, CEO, DI Africa; and Toni Sanni, Head of Corporate Finance and Venture Capital, Emerging Africa Group, among others.
The IIF’s commitment to promoting gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s impact investing ecosystem is an important step towards closing this gap and creating a more equitable future for all. (NOPE)
Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma