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Gender-lens Investing

Our gender lens approach

Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment (WEE) are strategic priorities for FinDev Canada. We are proud to be a gender lens investor and apply a gender lens to 100 percent of our transactions. We consider our gender lens approach as a key enabler of our objective to reduce poverty and achieve a more stable and prosperous future, but also as an asset to drive business performance in our portfolio.

The right and smart thing to do for the private sector – and DFIs

Approaching our mandate through a gender lens is a logical way for FinDev Canada to drive improved outcomes on gender equality. Reducing the legal, social and economic disparities between women and men is a fundamental human rights issue that is also critical to the reduction of poverty and the achievement of a stable, prosperous future for all. Yet, women and girls in our priority geographies continue to face constraints when it comes to gaining access to basic services, going to school, earning their own livelihoods, owning property, and participating in decision-making. This prevents women from realizing their full potential, which hinders both human and economic development.


Women make up a minority — sometimes a small one — of business owners

Too few firms have women in top positions


The private sector can play a significant role in increasing economic equality between men and women and spurring economic empowerment. In developing countries, the private sector provides 90 percent of jobs, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) create as much as 66 percent of permanent, full-time employment . In addition to jobs and business opportunities, the private sector can have a positive impact on women’s economic empowerment by enabling access to products, services and tools that benefit women. 


Access to basic financial services remains a greater challenge for women


Women are much less present in the paid labour market

This positive relationship goes both ways, as a more gender-equal private sector is associated with better business performance and economic growth. 

Better Business Performance

Economic Growth

Given its private sector mandate, an investor such as FinDev Canada is well-positioned to promote gender equality and contribute to the demonstration of the viability of gender-lens investing as an investment strategy. As a client-centric institution, we aim to bring maximum financial as well as non-financial value to our clients. We therefore see our gender equality focus as a central element of our value proposition to clients.

Gender Lens investing

Strategic focus

After analyzing regional economic gender gaps, sectoral leverage points, and evidence on private sector strategies to promote gender equality, we choose to focus our gender lens approach on four vectors of WEE:


Priorities for action

FinDev Canada is a gender lens investor. This gender lens will take several forms. At a portfolio level, we will evaluate all our transactions based on their potential to drive gender inclusion and increase women’s access to economic opportunities, with a view to reach at least one of the following objectives: 

  • steer capital towards transactions with high impact on gender equality, and/or;
  • support client companies to become more gender inclusive. 

At an institutional and industry level, we will approach our own practices, our place in the DFI community and our partnerships with a gender lens. 

vectors gender


1. We will use our capital to bridge gaps in gender-lens investing

We will use our capital to bridge gaps in gender-lens investing and deploy capital towards investment opportunities that intentionally and actively drive impact on gender equality. In line with our chosen gender lens, we typically define those opportunities as investments in businesses that are owned or led by women, businesses that provide decent work to women, businesses that provide women access to basic services and economic empowerment tools, as well as funds or financial intermediaries supporting these businesses.

2. We will promote ‘Gender action’

We will promote ‘Gender action’, i.e. support our clients to enhance their gender inclusion and diversity practices and drive greater women’s economic empowerment outcomes though their business activities. This will be offered to all clients through FinDev Canada’s technical assistance facility and in-house advisory services. Encouraging gender inclusion in companies or industries where it has previously been absent is key if we want to engender change and achieve true equality across the private sector. It is also an asset for growth-oriented businesses, as gender inclusion is correlated with sound business management, better financial and non-financial performance and more innovative teams. This support is a central element of our value proposition to clients.

3. We will lead by example

We will lead by example, i.e. by ensuring that our own institutional and governance practices are aligned with, and drive, international best practices on gender inclusion and gender-lens investing. If we want to drive gender equality and WEE through our investments, our clients and stakeholders can expect FinDev Canada to “walk the talk”. We will apply this thinking to various strategic areas, including our governance and advisory structures, our investment process, and our workplace. 

4. We will be a catalytic agent of change in the investment community for gender lens investing

We will be a catalytic agent of change in the investment community for gender lens investing, i.e. approach our partnerships, collaborations and participation in various fora, events and platforms to further the gender lens investing agenda in emerging markets.