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Investing in Women launches RISE Fund to assist women’s SMEs in South East Asia

News Stories /05 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has spiralled from a public health emergency to a global humanitarian and economic crisis; and in such crises, women commonly face greater challenges. In response, Investing in Women has launched the RISE Fund – Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs – to assist in the recovery of women’s SMEs in the South East Asian region.

Women-owned and women-led businesses operating in the small and medium enterprise (SME) range account for a large source of economic dynamism, risk mitigation, resiliency and untapped market opportunities that will all be crucial to the post-COVID recovery in South East Asia. Working through impact investors, the RISE Fund will support women’s SMEs in the region by injecting capital in two stages. During the first stage, the RISE fund will provide an Emergency Relief Facility to mitigate short-term (3-6 months) liquidity constraints for otherwise well-functioning enterprises already in the program’s portfolio of investments.

In the second stage, the RISE Fund will ramp up gender lens investing through a Resilience Facility for post-COVID recovery to support women’s SMEs over the longer term (6 – 24 months). Support totalling AUD 3 million will be provided to women’s SMEs through existing impact investing partners.

The RISE Fund will complement—and not duplicate—a wider array of public and other donor efforts to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID crisis. Governments and Development Finance Institutions continue to develop fiscal and economic stimulus packages to support businesses impacted by the COVID crisis. Yet, unless specific gender strategies and targets are set, women’s SMEs may not widely benefit from such interventions due to systemic biases.

“The SME sector in the Philippines will be the key to economic turnaround during post-COVID recovery. As a nation, we recognise the economic contributions of Filipino women in the society. The Investing in Women RISE Fund will support and give a boost to the women’s SMEs in Philippines for inclusive growth and economic recovery,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, HE Steven Robinson AO.

During and after the crisis, Investing in Women seeks to ensure that women entrepreneurs can access funding required to adapt and respond to emerging business opportunities during the critical recovery period. “Moving flexibly to respond to the COVID crisis, Investing in Women has taken steps towards economic recovery and programmatic ramp-up,” said Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of Investing in Women.

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