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Coming from a corporate fortune 500 setting, I will be the first to admit that I typically fall into the trap of looking at the same standard criteria when assessing the feasibility of a new social impact investment program [i]: market need, market size, business model, financial model and strategic fit. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of effort and intelligence goes into developing each of the above.
However, after attending the IIX Impact Institute Executive Certificate Program: Financing the SDGs, I came to realize one large blind spot: Risk.
The following speech was delivered at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly by IIX founder Durreen Shahnaz to launch the Innovative Finance for Sustainable Peace Initiative. The 5-year initiative leverages the power of financial markets to unlock $1 billion to drive forward sustainable peacebuilding efforts across the globe by creating systemic social-economic resilience.
Innovative finance is emerging as a powerful tool for harnessing private sector capital to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment but remains limited in its scale to date due to challenges inherent in innovation. Philanthropic actors can help overcome these barriers and play a catalytic role in enabling innovative finance to reach its true potential in creating gendered impact. Using three case studies of innovative financial mechanisms that are applying a gender lens across Asia, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) illustrates how innovative finance can create gendered impact and how philanthropic actors can use their resources to support the development of such funding mechanisms.
The recent McKinsey & Company report ‘Impact Investing Finds its Place in India’ is an interesting read with some valid insights on impact investing in India. However, having been in the impact investing space in India for more than a decade, I have witnessed the pendulum of impact investing swinging away from India towards other high-potential countries of South and South East Asia and believe it is time to zoom into the new frontier markets which have proven strong economic growth with high impact potential.
Despite traction in gendered approaches to investment, women still represent an underutilized force for sustainable development and remain underserved in terms of access to capital, market linkages, and resources needed to improve their economic position. Closing the gender gap is not only a social imperative but also a key ingredient in fueling economic growth.
After four hours of bumpy drive into the hilly areas near Visakhapatnam, India, we reached our destination – an isolated village which was inaccessible by road until two years ago, and remains disconnected to grid power. Yet, utility poles with LED street lights, together with a solar system, are prominently placed across the village of 12 families. We were warmly invited by the village chief to visit his house. Surrounded by a group of villagers, he switched on the television and started describing the changes this solar energy system brought to the village.