Gender lens investing still has a long way to go

Gender lens investing still has a long way to go

Around 45 investors, entrepreneurs, and intermediates in the field of impact investing engaged in lively discussions at this month’s Impact Investing Roundtable focussed on gender lens investing, co-hosted by the Vodafone Institute and the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).

Topics around gender, business and finance are being discussed broadly all around the world.
However, many women still find it hard to get investment. For example, $5 million is the average deal size for a woman-led company. For a man-led company, that number is a little less than $12 million.

“If you look at the landscape of people who are engaged in gender lens investing or gender strategies more generally, actually in Germany we don’t have that many. I think it’s a pity and it has to change”, says Anja König, co-host of the Impact Investing Roundtable Berlin and impact professional at the EVPA.

Speaker Julia Profeta Johannsson (l.) and two participants (Credit: Silke Müller / Vodafone Institute)

While impact investing usually means investing in companies or organizations with the intention to have any kind of measurable social impact while generating a financial return, gender lens investing integrates gender-based factors into the investment to benefit the lives of women and girls.

With impressive statistics Julia Profeta Johannsson, impact investment professional and founder of Ella impact, showed how absurd it is to ignore the perspectives of women as they make the majority of consumer decisions: 94% of furniture, 92% of vacations, 91% of homes and 60% of cars.

Discussion round on gender lens investing (Credit: Silke Müller / Vodafone Institute)

That investing has also a lot do with power and where that power is exercised, demonstrated Ramona Liberoff, Senior Advisor and former CEO of SPRING Accelerator. Referring to male-dominated spaces like boardrooms or the tech-scene, she admitted that it took her a while to realize “an investor can look like me”. Likewise, Alice Deißner, director of Strategy and Programme at Vodafone Institute and co-founder of F-LANE, emphasized the need for more women in the tech-scene: “Only 5% of tech start-ups are founded by women”.

Alice Deißner (l.), Director of Strategy and Programme at Vodafone Institute (Credit: Silke Müller / Vodafone Institute)

Despite all the alarming statistics and facts around gender and business in general – and gender lens investing specifically – the participants of the Impact Investing Roundtable made it quite clear that they mostly see a big opportunity in gender lens investing leading to more visibility and empowerment for women worldwide.