Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 17 April 2018 – Over 50 gender and finance experts came together with community leaders in Ho Chi Minh City for a two-day workshop on gender lens investing. This event provided an opportunity to frame, identify, and debate a shared vision for how to include gender in investment decisions. As investments across South East Asia grow, so are the conversations about the intersection of gender and finance. Gender lens investing refers to this intersection and provides a framework for which to value gender in the systems of finance. Across the globe, gender lens investing continues to gain momentum as a tool for improving investment and gender equality.
In Vietnam, women enjoy a long tradition in business and contribute appreciably to the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. Women-owned businesses account for an estimated 21% of the 181,000 SMEs in the formal economy. But women face significant challenges in establishing and growing their enterprises, and access to capital is a major barrier.
Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, is supporting investors to incorporate gender data and analytics into their financial analysis to help them make better investment decisions that can open up more access to capital for women-owned and women-led SMEs.
“In many ways, Asia is ahead of the globe in making investment decisions with greater gender focus. The growth of gender lens investing across South East Asia now demands more industry champions, equipped with technical skills in both gender and finance, to grow a community of practice,” said Joy Anderson, president and co-founder of the Criterion Institute. One of the leading think tanks on gender lens investing, the Criterion Institute partners with Investing in Women to organize this event in Vietnam and throughout South East Asia. Ms. Anderson noted, “Over the last two days, we have strengthened a shared understanding of how gender shapes perceptions of market value in investment opportunities and we have built a small, but vital, community of translators to assist others in navigating and building the field of gender lens investing. The Criterion Institute is excited to assist in solidifying a community of field-builders here in Vietnam.”
James Soukamneuth, Impact Investing Partnership Director of Investing in Women, expressed that “Gender lens investing has a strong role to play for impact investing to reach its full potential. Investing in Women is committed to growing the field in South East Asia, with common standards and core set of principles, mitigating barriers to entry. We believe that gender lens investing can accelerate sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Vietnam.”
Ho Chi Minh City is the second South East Asian city to host a gender lens investing field-building workshop with the first being held in Jakarta in February 2018. A final workshop is planned for Manila, Philippines in June 2018. #
Investing in Women
Investing in Women is an Australian Government initiative to catalyse inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in South East Asia. The program’s goals are to improve women’s participation in the workforce and as business leaders; enhance women’s voice in decision making and leadership; and influence the private and public sectors to recognise and promote the value of gender equality. Investing in Women partners with impact investors to strengthen access to finance for women-owned and led SMEs particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and to build a business case for a more inclusive investing environment globally.
Founded in 2002, Criterion Institute works with social change-makers to demystify finance and broaden their perspective on how to engage with and shift financial systems. Since its founding, Criterion Institute has been at the forefront of using finance as a tool for social change, engaging partners globally to reframe how they see and use financial systems. Criterion Institute’s initiative, Women Effect, pioneered a movement that is now called Gender Lens Investing. Ever since Criterion has had a central role in defining the gender lens investing field. Criterion Institute has catalysed the involvement of thousands of people in the space, and now close to a trillion dollars is moving with a gender lens. Over the years, Criterion Institute has focused its role and directed its efforts where the organisation felt it could make the most impact: ground-breaking research, innovative approaches to hands-on training and Criterion Institute’s ability to influence and change institutions.