Women Effect Investments
Bringing a Gender Lens to Investing
IT TAKES AN ECOSYSTEM
“Tri-fecta again!” I dropped an email to Jennifer John, our new Criterion colleague, noting the third time in a week that I had talked with an entrepreneur who hit all three of our gender lenses. This conversation was with Joanna Wasmuth, whose company, Erase Poverty, works to grow small businesses (with an emphasis on women-owned businesses). They do this through creative cause marketing campaigns that support microfinance, with an option to direct funds specifically towards women. Earlier in the week, at the SEED conference, Meg Wirth had crossed a large lunch room to find me and share about the growth of Maternova. Her enterprise has an Amazon.com model for maternal health care in developing countries – a case of a woman entrepreneur providing products to (largely women) health care workers that save women’s lives during childbirth in low-resource settings. Bulls-eye. And, in my third conversation, I was talking with Servane Mouazan from Ogunte – a social innovations development company focused on women-led social ventures. Seeing women who have practical answers to pressing social and environmental issues, Servane is equipping them to create and respond to social opportunities. Yet another 3-Lenser.
These entrepreneurs are remarkable, but they are certainly not unique. They are simply representative of a host of exciting opportunities where early stage capital can engage women in economies. Inevitably, these conversations turn to financing. Where are the individuals/organizations deploying risk capital with a gender lens? And, what role(s) will women with capital to deploy play in all this?
This then leads to questions about the role of relationships as this space develops. Women’s philanthropy has developed the model of giving in relationship – women’s funds, giving circles and other evolving models such as Spark. I am excited about a number of emerging models that also leverage relationships – but this time in support of gender lens investing. Three of them will join us tomorrow on our next Ecosystem Call – PYMWYMIC Women, Golden Seeds and the Pipeline Fellowship. They represent different models of moving capital – financial and human – to companies employing a gender lens. I hope many of you can dial in to catch their wisdom.