Bringing a gender lens to Pacific investments

Pacific Readiness for Investment in Social Enterprise, or Pacific RISE, an Australian Government funded initiative, is training twenty-two gender experts in gender lens investing in Suva this week.

Through educating Pacific-based gender experts about systems and processes of finance, the training will support them to have more influence in the field of impact investing and allow them to shape how capital is used to support women and girls across the Pacific.

Participants from Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu are attending a three-day program commencing today, to understand how private finance and investment work, how finance can be used as a tool to create social change and the importance of creating networks between gender organisations and investors.

Leading the training are Pacific RISE's partner in gender lens investing, Joy Anderson from the Criterion Institute, an American-based company that have pioneered the concept of gender lens investing across the globe.

Pacific RISE will introduce the concept of gender lens investing to the participants using the Criterion Institute’s TOOLKIT approach. 

This TOOLKIT has been developed primarily for the Pacific-based gender experts.

The three-day program aims to teach about financial analysis and how to seek and improve investments and promote equitable social change.

In the Pacific Islands, women make significant contributions to communities and economies, and there is a growing recognition among governments and in the private sector that investing in women and girls has a powerful effect on productivity, efficiency and economic growth.

Businesses in the Pacific are often family-run initiatives, so understanding the role of women in business is essential for sound investment.

Pacific RISE is actively seeking to learn and adapt as a pilot program, Pacific RISE is playing an important role in learning and advising all the different actors involved in creating a Pacific impact investment market.

However, Gender Lens Investing goes beyond targeting women as business owners, or targeting women as beneficiaries of impact investment products and services.

Gender Lens Investing applies gender analysis throughout the investment process and draws on gender data in its assessment of risk and return of an investment.

While emerging in the Pacific, impact investing is growing rapidly across the globe.  Impact investments are those that look beyond the financial return – they aim to deliver measurable social and environmental impacts.

Impact investments often target women and girls, but rarely do they include a gender analysis in the financial analysis as few actors associated impact investments have an understanding of gender patterns and trends and the impact they have on the success of an investment. 

Similarly, many gender experts don’t have a solid financial understanding, which means that they are not active voices in investment negotiations.

Pacific RISE is an Australian Government funded initiative designed to create an impact investment market in the Pacific.

It is establishing private sector partnerships made up of investors, intermediaries and Pacific-based businesses.

These connections will link finance and ideas to achieve social and economic development outcomes, particularly for women and girls.