The theme of 2020's International Women's Day is "I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights". With this, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) have formally partnered to 'catalyse' women empowerment through 'impact investing' in Asia to open up growth capital for small and medium enterprises that helps women as business owners, leaders, employees, and consumers.
What is an impact investment?
Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds that intend to provide capital to address social and/or environmental issues.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said, "As we enter the Decade of Action for sustainable development, advancing women's equality through access to finance is key. It builds agency, catalyzes entrepreneurship, and leads to more inclusive growth. ESCAP is delighted to be partnering with SEAF to unlock private capital and channel it to women enterprises in Asia and the Pacific."
SEAF's selection was made by experts in investment and based on the expertise of women empowerment. Its activity is famed in Asia, having launched the Blue Waters Growth Fund in 2007, followed by SEAF Bangladesh Ventures (SEAF BV) in 2010 and the SEAF Women's Opportunity Fund (SWOF) in 2017. ESCAP will provide SEAF with technical assistance and grant support including knowledge, resources, networking and guidance
SWEEF will be launched in South East Asia
Promoting equal opportunities for women has been overlooked in the arena of access to growth capital and mentoring them and likewise welcomed the initiative of ESCAP, said SEAF Senior Managing Director Ms Jennifer Buckley
The current partnership will launch the SEAF Women's Economic Empowerment Fund (SWEEF) in South East Asia while expanding itself in Bangladesh. On the other hand, the investment strategy will have a gender lens overlay, with the implementation of the SEAF Gender Equality Scorecard.