Posted on September 30, 2020 | Updated at 9AM

Championing economic opportunities for women in Africa – Development Partners International’s (DPI) latest fund to become the first 2X Flagship Fund



  • DPI’s African Development Partners III Fund (“ADP III”) has been chosen as the first 2X Flagship Fund, committed to investing with a gender lens.
  • DPI’s long-standing commitment to gender equity, along with its fund’s commercial performance, recognises the power of DFI collaboration working alongside proactive fund managers to effect real development impact while generating commercial returns. DPI is intentionally supporting SDGs 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reduced inequalities) through its portfolio in Africa.
  • In June, the 2X Challenge exceeded its target by mobilizing $4.5 billion towards women’s economic empowerment.

CDC Group plc (“CDC”), the UK’s development finance institution, alongside Germany’s DEG, European Investment Bank, FinDev Canada, FMO, Proparco, SIFEM and SwedFund International, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Development Partners International LLP (DPI), a leading pan-African private equity firm with $1.7 billion of assets under management, to become the first 2X Flagship Fund.


2X Flagship Funds are part of the 2X Challenge, a multilateral initiative launched by the DFIs of the G7 countries, with the objective of mobilizing $3 billion to support projects that empower women and enhance their economic participation. Vehicles awarded status as 2X Flagship Funds are established, high performing private equity funds, focused on emerging markets, that have committed to investing with a gender lens using the 2X criteria.


With ADP III qualifying as the first 2X Flagship Fund, DPI is affirming its clear and long-standing commitment to advancing women’s economic empowerment and promoting gender equity both at DPI and within its portfolio companies in ADP III.  Applying a gender lens helps investors unlock the multi-trillion-dollar opportunity that women represent in the global economy – as earners, women have a multiplier effect by reinvesting their income to grow their businesses, buy goods and services and improve the welfare of their families and communities. Current estimates indicate that women control 70-80% of consumer spending decisions, estimated at approximately $40 trillion globally (See Silverstein and Sayre, 2009: The Female Economy, Harvard Business Review)


DPI and all DFI members of the 2X Challenge recognise that in the private sector, gender equity drives higher performance and increased employee engagement - gender-balanced management teams typically demonstrate 10-20% higher returns (See IFC Report, 2019: Moving Toward Gender Balance in Private Equity and Venture Capital). DPI’s leadership team has strong representation of women in key roles, led by CEO and co-founder, Runa Alam, with 50 per cent of all Partners at the firm and of the Investment Committee being women.


Runa Alam, co-founder and CEO of DPI said, “We are extremely proud to be the first 2X Flagship Fund in the 2X Challenge, which reaffirms our commitment to advancing senior women and developing the pipeline of female talent in private equity. Working closely with our portfolio companies, we want to emphasize the benefits that gender-focused investing can provide, not just in terms of returns, but in helping to drive economies, unlock opportunities, and improve the quality of life for women across Africa. For DPI, signing on as a 2X Flagship Fund, is an important and natural step to reinforce our long-standing commitment to gender equity.”


DPI has been a long-term CDC partner since CDC’s investment in DPI’s inaugural fund in 2008. More recently, CDC anchored ADP III with an $80m commitment.


Jen Braswell, Director, Value Creation Strategies at CDC Group, said, “In only two years, the 2X challenge has mobilized a total $4.5 billion in gender-smart investments, and now we have launched the very first 2X Flagship Fund with DPI. This represents a key milestone in our work to build the field of gender finance and to empowering women through our investing.

We hope that DPI’s commitment will demonstrate to the private equity industry that adopting a gender lens is consistent with a commercial investing strategy and adds real value to an emerging markets portfolio.”


In May 2020, FinDev Canada announced a $20M investment in ADP III. This investment is expected to contribute to job creation and gender equity across Africa.


Anne-Marie Lévesque, Head of Gender and Impact at FinDev Canada, said, “The 2X Challenge has committed and mobilized $4.5 billion towards women’s economic empowerment so far, considerably exceeding its initial target. At FinDev Canada, we strongly believe that investing in women bolsters economic growth, promotes positive social change and supports sustainable development. This first 2X Flagship Fund with DPI will allow us to be even more ambitious in our commitment to increase capital flows towards gender-lens investing in emerging markets.”





  • Members of the DFI 2X Challenge include CDC Group, DEG, European Investment Bank, FinDev Canada, FMO, Proparco, SIFEM and SwedFund International


Media Contact:

CDC: Andrew Murray-Watson / +44 (0) 7515 695232


DPI: Charles Harrison, Jess Gill, Olivia Adebo

+44 (0) 203 047 2528 / +44 (0) 203 047 4091 / +44 (0) 203 047 2568


About FinDev Canada:

Development Finance Institute Canada (DFIC) Inc., operating under the FinDev Canada brand, is a Canadian institution dedicated to providing financial services to the private sector in developing countries with the aim of combating poverty through economic growth by focusing on three main themes: economic development through job creation, women’s economic empowerment, and climate change mitigation. The Development Finance Institute Canada (DFIC) Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Export Development Canada (EDC). Find out more about FinDev Canada here.


About DPI:

Development Partners International LLP (DPI) is a Pan-African private equity firm that invests in companies benefiting from the fast-growing emerging middle class in Africa with $1.7 bn in AUM. DPI has invested in 21 portfolio companies operating across over 30 countries. As a signatory to the UN PRI, DPI promotes high ESG and Impact standards and seeks to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. DPI is also one of the first African fund to become a signatory of the IFC Operating Principles for Impact Management. DPI has developed an innovative Impact and ESG Management System and key impact themes will focus on:


•           Job Quality: SDG 8

•           Climate change: SDG 13

•           Gender balance: SDG 5


As a 2X Flagship Fund, DPI has a commitment to gender and diversity alongside returns. DPI has a female co-founder and CEO, half of the partners are women, and over 45% of the firm are women.


About CDC:

1. CDC Group is the UK’s first impact investor with over 70 years of experience of successfully supporting the sustainable, long-term growth of businesses in South Asia and Africa.


2.CDC is a leading player in the fight against climate change and a UK champion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – the global blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all.   


3.The company has investments in over 1,200 businesses in emerging economies and a total portfolio value of £5.8bn. This year CDC will invest over $1.5bn in companies in Africa and Asia with a focus on fighting climate change, empowering women and creating new jobs and opportunities for millions of people.


4.CDC is funded by the UK government and all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.