Open Society Foundations Commit $15 Million to Gender Equality in Africa

Friday, May 8, 2020

Open Society Foundations Commit $15 Million to Gender Equality in Africa

NEW YORK—The Open Society Economic Justice Program, via its impact investing arm, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), has committed $15 million to two women-led investment funds that advance economic and gender equity.

These investments—$10 million in Alitheia IDF and $5 million in Women’s World Banking Capital Partners II, managed by the nonprofit Women’s World Banking—recognize the power of African women in the informal economy to catalyze change and amplify women’s voices while contributing to their economic empowerment.

These transactions are two of a batch of social impact investments totaling $33 million that SEDF has made since March, across a range of sectors, including gender, climate adaptation, and human rights.

Alitheia IDF will invest between $1 million and $5 million, with the potential for additional funding at a later stage, into small and medium-sized enterprises that present an opportunity to promote gender equality. Investments are made in local currencies across Southern and Western Africa, with a focus on sectors with a high representation of female entrepreneurs and strong prominence of women working in the value chain. These sectors include agribusinesses, consumer goods, and essential services.

Women’s World Banking Capital Partners II will invest, on average, between $5 million and $10 million in financial services companies in emerging markets, where one billion women still lack access to formal financial products and services. The fund aims to advance women’s financial inclusion as well as increase gender participation at investee companies. This is the team’s second fund and is a first-of-its-kind blended finance vehicle.

SEDF selected Alitheia IDF Fund and Women’s World Banking Capital Partners II through an open call and competitive process, as part of an effort to identify investment opportunities that honor the power of women in Africa who are working in the informal sector. These two funds not only invest in businesses but are also women-led themselves. This represents SEDF’s second and third investments in women-led teams...