30 September 2017 – Directing investments to women entrepreneurs may seem like a no-brainer, at least for half of our species. But growing those investments presents challenges, particularly in conservative, even patriarchal, countries in South East Asia, where many women are left out of business opportunities.
“I think the challenge that faces women [in the region] is they see an imaginary sign on banks that they are not open for business for women,” said Rubin Japhta, a gender finance specialist at the International Finance Corp.
Of the roughly $140 billion in impact investing assets globally, only about 4 percent of that is being invested into South East Asia, Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of Investing in Women Initiative, said at the 3rd Sankalp South East Asia Summit in Jakarta last week. Huge opportunities exist for investments overall, particularly in women-owned businesses.
“We are with business coalitions of large employers who are looking to increase gender equality, and working with impact investors to close credit gaps, we are working to advocate for equal opportunity,” Newton-Howes said. “The fact that there is a significant gap for women entrepreneurs means [these investors, these countries] are missing out on growth opportunities.”
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