NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – A fund investing in women fund managers on the continent has been launched through a partnership between United Nations Economic Commission of Africa and Standard Bank Group.
In a statement, the organizations say the fund will provide capital to both first time and experienced female fund managers.
The fund targets those in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 of Gender Equality and 8, on Decent Work and Economic Growth, and African Union Agenda 2063.
The fund, whose current goal is US$100 million, has already received over $20 million, with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda pledging $500,000.
Among the world leaders who witnessed the official launch of the innovative impact investment fund were UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.
“We are turning the tables and making women the decision-makers of investable money in Africa. We want women to be on the supply side of money, not only on the demand side,” said Dr. Vera Songwe, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA.
“A key goal of the fund is to empower women financial leaders who will drive economic growth, job creation, and create prosperity.”
In Africa women-owned funds and businesses struggle due largely to lack of successful fundraising, insufficient exposure to systems and procedures, and lack of track records, among others.
They also contend with gender-based social expectation, resistance to women in leadership roles and lack of a support network.
The fund will empower Africa’s women by giving them access to financial resources and investment management expertise.
Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, says the fund aligns with the Bank’s purpose to drive Africa’s growth and “presents an opportunity for Standard Bank to leverage our footprint and expertise on the continent, and the relevant experience of our asset management arms, Melville Douglas and STANLIB Multi-Managers, to build Africa’s economies. Africa is our home, we drive her growth”.
Women fund managers will receive a deployment of capital, and subsequently invest in majority female-owned businesses.
Even though the fund is sector agnostic, priority sectors will be education, manufacturing, healthcare, clean energy and agriculture.
Additionally, technical assistance for fund managers and entrepreneurs will be offered through the initiative.
This ranges from building capacity, direct mentoring to leveraging technology in health and education.