Women’s inclusion crucial to economic growth in middle income countriesStories /19 November 2019
More than 300 attendees from over 40 countries gathered in Singapore last month for the Making Finance Work for Women Summit.
Key personalities from the finance, investment, policymaking, philanthropy and technology communities participated in interactive workshops, debates, plenary sessions and the inaugural FinTech Innovation Challenge. Panel sessions helped participants identify social and cultural barriers to making finance work for women, as well as formulate solutions to address such challenges and ensure financial security for women.
Investing in Women’s Impact Investing Director, James Soukamneuth, joined the panel for Gender Lens Investing: A Strategy for Outperformance, which highlighted the benefits of including gender in an investment strategy.
As one of the panellists, James encouraged a wider appreciation of financial inclusion at a larger scale, as well as women’s economic empowerment to embrace all socio-economic strata of society—beyond the scope of microenterprises.
He briefly talked about the work of Investing in Women (IW), dedicating a few minutes to discuss IW’s efforts to mobilise more impact investment capital to South East Asia for women-owned and women-led businesses operating in the small and medium enterprise segment.
James also shared insights on why the focus of women is crucial for international development, especially in middle income countries.
“Measurable growth can be expected if gender credit gap is addressed, and if women are given access to financing options and services in emerging markets,” he said. “Investing in women makes smart economics.”
Economic growth is more robust and sustainable when both women and men participate fully in the labour market. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, an estimated U$ 4.5 trillion (AU$ 6.5 trillion) could be added to the collective annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Asia Pacific countries by 2025 through advancing gender equality.
Apart from providing an overview of IW’s efforts to advance impact investing in Southeast Asia, James volunteered possible scenarios for investors to include a gender lens perspective as part of their investment strategies.
Industry experts such as Catalyst at Large founder Suzanne Biegel and Heather Kipnis, Women’s Entrepreneurship Product Lead for the International Finance Corporation Gender Secretariat, were also part of the panel.
Organised by Women’s World Banking, the Making Finance Work for Women Summit was held from 22 to 23 October at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore. The event was supported by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Standard Chartered Bank.
Want to learn more about women who are instrumental to economic growth? Check out this report.