Women Effect Investments Bringing a Gender Lens to Investing

kristy SRI/ESG News, The Power of Yin

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It has been a busy month since the Convergence we hosted at the end of October!

When you start looking for investment opportunities with a gender lens, they begin to appear. At TedXWomen this week I found this to be true in spades. Gayle Lemmon kicked things off with a compelling case for seeing and investing in women entrepreneurs in emerging markets: “you can’t count what you don’t see, you don’t invest in the invisible.” Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s troubling picture of the representation of women in the media – and the 97% of decision making roles held by men – focused me on the lens of work place equity around our investments in media.

Laura Turner Seydel’s review of the progress – and the challenges – of access to reproductive health services brought back a Convergence conversation about the potential for a fund focused on companies offering products and services in this sector, and the three female winners of the Google science fair – Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hoodge – made me swoon to invest in any businesses they might start in the coming years.

What opportunities has a gender lens brought into focus for you in the last month?

A key quote of the day for me was from Gloria Steinem, who noted that “we individualize way too much in this culture. It is a movement, it is huge. By individualizing it you stereotype it.” I am convinced again and again that building this field of gender lens investing will take the collective work of all of us.


Jackie VanderBrug
Managing Director, Criterion Ventures

What we are reading

A New Foundation For Portfolio Management’ on changing the criteria for Risk Assessment, by Leslie Christian with support from RSF Social Finance.

Criterion’s Jackie VanderBrug had a great conversation with Leslie about this piece – and the connections between a gender lens and the piece’s pointed commentary around the inadequacies of current definitions of risk, assumptions of growth and approach to utility (or the assumption of rational behaviors). Leslie (as many of you know) has a deep background in gender lens investing and she and Jackie picked right up from many of the conversations at Convergence ranging from women’s approach to risk, to the benefit of diverse teams when looking at multi-dimensional utility, to the role of women in championing sustainable approaches to growth. If you haven’t read it, we commend it to you.

“Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability” by Catalyst and Harvard Business School. New data from Catalyst and researchers from Harvard Business School suggest that gender-inclusive leadership and corporate social responsibility (CSR), examined through the lens of corporate philanthropy, are linked.

BSR’s report on “Women and Sustainability: Investing in Women’s Economic Empowerment” offers a ‘prioritization process and call to action’ around investable opportunities which align global gender equity objectives with business opportunities.

LinkedIn Group
From the emerging profile of women investors to gender differences in leveraging business relationships into networks, the Gender Lens Investing Forum on Linked In is abuzz with conversations about the emerging space of investing with a gender lens. Join and have your voice be heard!

Ecosystem Calls
On November 16, we had our first WEI ecosystem call to bring together different actors from the gender lens investing space and to catch up those who couldn’t make Convergence. We will have these calls monthly with a thematic focus to explore together the many forms investing with a gender lens takes. Mark your calendars! The next call will take place December 21st at 12PM – 1PM EST at dial-in: (559) 546-1200, access code 854397750#. If you’d like to join, RSVP to Anna at [email protected] and we will send on further details closer to the call.

On this month’s call, we heard from many people in the community including our partners that are implementing a gender lens in various ways: Jenny Everett of the ANDE gender working group, Loretta McCarthy of Golden Seeds, Cindy Padnos of Illuminate Ventures, Brian Phillips of Technoserve and the ANDE gender working group, and Art Stevens of Calvert Foundation. Messages ranged from how gender-neutral investment theses can enhance fund performance,to how vehicles can learn from each other, to the importance of outcomesover outputs,to the role networks of investors can play in spreading this message.

WEI WordPress
We are sitting on some incredible content around gender lens investing and a desire for members of our ecosystem to be able to better connect and share information. In our scrappy style, we’ve created an interim solution of distributing this information and connecting the ecosystem in the form of a WordPress site.

If you, or anyone you know, has the technical skill – or funding for technical assistance – to help us translate this from a WordPress.com to a WordPress.org, we would be so grateful.


Over the next year, as funding allows, we will turn this temporary solution into a more permanent information hub with greater possibilities for connectivity and largely expanded features.

Speakers Collective
The Speakers Collective is a group of leaders in the investment and gender fields who speak at conferences and other events to ensure that the message that investing in women is good for families and communities and for business and the economy spreads farther and is heard louder.

WEI is proud to be represented by its distinguished Speakers Collective:

Suzanne Biegel, Connie E. Evans, Jenny Everett, Julie Gorte, Lisa Hall, Joe Keefe, Randall Kempner, Gayle Lemmon, Kathleen McQuiggan, Donna Morton, Natalia Oberti Noguera, Cindy Padnos, Jan Piercy, Art Stevens, Jacki Zehner.

Investing with a Gender Lens in Action
Disclaimer: Criterion Ventures is providing this list as a public service. This list does not constitute an offer to buy or sell securities, nor is this a solicitation of any kind with respect to any of the funds listed. Criterion does not have any affiliation with these funds, nor does it endorse them in any way. Before investing in any fund, you should investigate the fund and its holding thoroughly and consult with a financial advisor. When reviewing any fund, please note that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

Belle Capital:
BELLE Capital, LP is an early stage angel fund focused on building great companies in Michigan and other, underserved geographic regions in the Midwest and South. We look for capital efficient companies with a unique product or service filling an urgent market need, targeting the mobile/internet/IT, technology-enabled services, life sciences/medical devices, advanced manufacturing and CleanTech market sectors. Companies seeking our capital must have at least one female founder or C-level exec, and/or be willing to recruit top female talent to the C-suite and Board of Directors.

Golden Seeds:
Golden Seeds is a network of angel investors dedicated to investing in early stage companies founded and/or led by women. Golden Seeds has more than 170 accredited investors, with locations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco. Golden Seeds is dedicated to empowering women financially, based on a commitment that diversity in business ownership and management improves corporate performance and creates a stronger economy.

Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment:
Women’s Initiative for Self Employment provides high-potential, low-income women in the Bay Area, New York, and Chicago with the training, funding and ongoing support to start their own businesses and become financially self sufficient. Women’s Initiative administers a revolving loan fund, disbursing loans ranging from $1000 to $25,000, and links women with asset building opportunities, including matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) where participants’ have the potential to double their savings for capital investments.

WEI Founding Community
We would like to welcome and whole heartedly thank the newest members of the WEI Founding Community: Katherine Collins of Honeybee Capital and Georgie Benardete of Multicultural Capital. We would also like to welcome and whole heartedly thank the first member of our newly created Catalyzing Community: Cindy Padnos of Illuminate Ventures. And a big THANK YOU to all of the WEI donors. Without your support we cannot do the work that we do.

We invite you to become a member of the Founding Community or Catalyzing Community. Contact Jackie VanderBrug for more information.

WEI Founding Community ($10,000 – $100,000)
Georgie Bernadete, Multicultural Capital LLC
Suzanne Biegel
Barbara Dobkin, Dobkin Family Foundation
Katherine Collins, Honeybee Capital
Jean Hammond, JPH Associates
Linda Jenkinson, Women of the World
Lisa Kro, Mill City Capital
Dawn McGee, Goodworks Ventures
Margaret McGovern, Green Partners
Bonny Meyer, Meyer Family Enterprises
Carol Newell, Renewal Partners
Carol Schwartz, Trawalla Foundation
Tuti Scott, Imagine Philanthropy
Jan Tuttleman, Tuttleman Family Foundation
Jacki Zehner, Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation

WEI Catalyzing Community ($1,000 – $10,000)
Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures