Jackie Vanderbrug | Women Effect Investments

Jackie Vanderbrug

How do you influence change?

I lead an initiative called Women Effect Investments. It is about how we take our investment dollars, the trillions of dollars that are invested globally and move them alongside the billions of dollars that women philanthropists have used to create a world that works for everyone.

 

"A Gender lens on investment can generate a massive ripple effect in the economy and society", what proven evidence can we use to date to have a fruitful debate with people who are yet to be convinced?

Jackie: We really mean a lens not a screen. 

So we look at gender lens as something, from an investment standpoint that brings opportunities to life. And there are specifically three lenses that we think are really powerful: 

The first is Access to Capital

How is it that women who have traditionally what we call capital punishment or the inability to access capital, can get access to capital to start and grow their businesses?

The second is Workplace Equity, where companies that value women's leadership and equal rights, throughout their value chain, from boards all the way through their supply chain, outperform those that don't.

And the third is around products and services. Companies that particularly focus on products and services they disproportionately benefit women and girls. 

So i can actually go across each of those lenses - access to capital, workplace equity, products and services and talk about the business case for why using that gender lens actually brings impact and return. 

We regularly talk about this at conferences and people say, oh we need more research, we need to understand this better. I am all for research but actually the business case is pretty clear. Actually what i think we need is better communication. The number of times when I am in places and I quote statistics that have been out there for numbers of year in terms of companies with more women on boards outperforming those who don't by 53% return on equity. People run up to me, after the conference and ask: "Could I get that statistic?", i say "Sure, it's publicly available..." It's just not widely known. The statistics around women businesses using capital more efficiently, again, publicly available, not widely known. The statistics that explain that if you are designing from the beginning, with a gender lens, more women consumers will be using this product, the products sell better. The data is out there, in various forms. but we haven't yet translated that into common knowledge.

Hyperlocal economies?

There are a lot of really interesting game changing local enterprises out there. There are not all going to scale, be acquired or have a great IPO but for the right local investors, they are really compelling opportunities.. How do you make that sexy again? And what is the infrastructure around that that makes it interesting?

People are increasingly saying, i want to be involved in my economy in my backyard. I want this to work, I feel that I cannot necessarily change what's happening in the financial capitals of the world, but I can make sure that local businesses here have access to capital. In the US that has been a real problem since the financial meltdown. But now, we are seeing people, as individuals, as part of investors groups, even remarkably as part of their faith based groups, out of their synagogues, and out of their churches, getting together and say, we want to partner with financial intermediaries to invest in our neighbourhoods.

Jackie Vanderbrug is the managing director at Criterion Ventureswhere she leads the Women Effect Investments initative

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