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Inaugural gender impact investment summit outlines ways to bridge financing gap

Investing in women for political progress: Are we ready?

The Impact Investors Foundation (IIF)’s first gender impact investment summit, which was co-hosted by the Nigeria National Board for Impact Investment, outlined ways to bridge the gender financing gap in Nigeria.

The summit brought together key stakeholders in the impact investing space including policymakers, investors, fund managers, and entrepreneurs to address the gender gap in accessing finance.

The summit, which was attended by key stakeholders in the impact investing space from policymakers to fund managers and entrepreneurs addressed barriers women face in impact investment and policies needed to unlock opportunities.

Participants made commitments to reducing the gender financing gap in Nigeria while also proposing gender targets for investee companies, building pipelines of female fund managers, and actionable policies to streamline gender inclusion.

They also committed to creating opportunities for women to access finance, enhance the awareness of gender-lens investing, and expand networking and partnerships.

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The Special Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker, Betta Edu, the Honourable Minister For Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, emphasised the need for gender lens investing and called for concrete steps to increase women’s participation across the impact investing value chains from asset owners to fund managers.

Edu, who was represented by Carol Nelson-Atuonwo, Special Adviser (Strategy) to the Honourable Minister, said, “Closing the financial gap for women in Nigeria is achievable and will entail concerted efforts in policy making, capacity building on gender mainstreaming and continuous engagement with all actors and stakeholders with a focus on tackling the root causes.”

In his welcome remarks, the Chair of Impact Investors Foundation (IIF) and Vice Chair for the Nigerian National Advisory Board for Impact Investing (NABII), Afolabi Oladele, noted that there was a problem with widespread access to finance, especially for women in Northern Nigeria.

He said, “Women still struggle with baseline needs, particularly in the North and this affects the balance. Women generally earn less than men even when they do the same job as the men.”

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Also speaking, the Chairperson for Nigerian NABII, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, called for gender inclusivity in boards of corporate organisations to drive profitability.

In his goodwill remarks, Tunde Mabawonku, Executive Director, Retail and Digital Bank, Wema Bank, encouraged women at the event to make the right investment choice and be deliberate in their plans to succeed in their career and their businesses.

“The summit marks an important milestone in collectively addressing the $320 billion financing gap facing African female fund managers and entrepreneurs,” said IIF and NABII CEO, Etemore Glover. “IIF remains committed to driving gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s impact investing ecosystem.”

While delivering a microtalk titled “The Nigerian NABII Agenda on Gender and Financing Women through the Wholesale Impact Investment Fund (WIIF)”, the Chair SME.NG/Member, Nigerian NABII, Thelma Ekiyor Olu-Solanke, said the WIIF was designed to address specific issues around building the ecosystem for impact financing in Nigeria.

According to her, the Nigerian NABII is intentional about incorporating women-led impact projects and will support women in new and underserved markets w

“The Federal Government has committed 50% to the Fund. We are looking forward to reaching the $1 billion benchmark by the first quarter of 2024,” she added.

Other speakers at the event include Tokunbo Ishmael, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Alithea Capital; Gwen Abiola-Oloke, CEO, DI Africa; and Toyin Sanni, CEO of Emerging Africa Group, among others.

IIF’s commitment to driving gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s impact investing ecosystem is an important step towards bridging this gap and creating a more equitable future for all.