5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Gender gains as an integral benefit from investment

Can community development be bankable? – let’s hear from the field

Lab debate
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
09:30 to 10:45

Crowding in the private sector to deliver the sustainable development goals is key. Clean energy, electricity, water are all important enablers for development and these projects can also deliver good outcomes for women if we are open to women-specific issues.  We would like to share with you some practical examples from the field, for example on how a renewable energy project got combined with trainings in relation to maternal and child health activities, hugely beneficial to the women and girls living in that remote area. And we would like to hear from the successful female-led fund EcoEnterprises on how they deliver portfolio results while generating fair and sustainable livelihoods for local communities, including women and girls. Let’s learn from the field and discuss the nexus is between climate and gender and how this can be further supported in the External Investment Plan or through EU-supported public private partnerships such as GEEREF.

Key points

  • Evidence is building that investment using gender equality and eco criteria can be profitable and socially beneficial.
  • Better data collection and use of metrics are needed to demonstrate progress to both communities and investors.
  • Communities must be involved at all levels to make such projects succeed and be sustainable.
  • Helping to educate female adolescents is key.
  • The European Investment Bank (EIB) is leading the way to expand gender-equality and eco-friendly projects.


Progress over 20 years by specialist investors focused on gender-equality and environment goals alongside good financial returns, is showing a success rate that is attracting more investors.

The pioneering EcoEnterprises Fund has created a model which demonstrates that investing with eco- and gender-supporting investment can make a good return.

The fund encourages the inclusion of women in senior management. It promotes community involvement. All parties must be part of the venture to create the product and ensure access to the markets.

EcoEnterprises is now raising its third investment fund. Its first fund focused on seed investments that formed the credibility base for launching a larger second fund which has recorded a net internal rate of return (IRR) close to 10 per cent which is impressive to investors. Its third fund is looking to invest in larger projects with turnover of more than USD 1 million.

Frontier Energy, the leading investor in energy markets in Africa, includes gender-inclusiveness in its projects. In these long-term projects, the company particularly focuses on targeting women for the jobs in the longest phase of the operations and maintenance, where there will be the greatest impact.

The company is also demonstrating that women can to do traditional manual jobs, many involving night shifts, where families provide support to make this possible.

To engage with the private investment sector, more impact reporting is needed to show the social value being created. It is important to collect data that show progress over time and to design metrics on elements such as gender, training and locally collected taxes to underline the social value.

Firms are increasingly integrating impact assessments in their working methods. Their clients now demand evidence of this.

Alongside proving the concept to investors, such projects have to involve local communities at all levels to help them succeed. This leads to community-led projects and greater numbers of local entrepreneurs.

It is necessary to start with basic elements to bring skills to women – many of whom have little education; and also to give them confidence to take a stronger position in male-dominated communities. Often the women, though competent at what they do, are not involved in decisions.

Women are encouraged to form investment clubs. They are trained in personal finance management. This is bringing change in local communities. It is helping them start income-generating activities. They can save their money and see how it can benefit them and their families.

Remote areas where traditional male-dominated values are strong remain a challenge. During consultations it is generally men who attend and women do not speak up. Separate consultations are organised to get their input.

The EIB is leading the way to expand the whole sector. The External Investment Plan (EIP) is proving useful to bring in private capital. The guarantee instrument, in particular, is an important tool for promoting seed capital investments.

The EIB-managed GEEREF (Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy) fund of funds is seeking to integrate the gender dimension and promote equality. It aims to give equal voice to women and men in its projects.

At EU level, work is under way to develop due diligence instruments to improve reporting and transparency about environmental and social impacts.


Momentum is building to prove that investment with gender-equality and eco-friendly criteria can be profitable and sustainable.

Organised by


Yvon Slingenberg
Director, Directorate A
European Commission - DG for Climate Action
Heidi Hautala
European Parliament
Tammy Newmark
CEO & Managing Partner
EcoEnterprises Fund
Annicent Busingye
Frontier Energy
Aglaé Touchard le Drian
Senior Investment Manager
European Investment Bank (EIB)