Investment with a Gender Lens in Europe

Investing in and with women leads to stronger economic growth, both more sustainable and inclusive. But, unfortunately, in Europe, regardless of the commitment from European institutions to promote gender equality, there is still a gender unequal representation of women in the financial environment.

This report aims at creating a diagnostical mapping of investment and finance initiatives with a gender lens and/or positive impact on gender equality in Europe. Our objective is to identify the gaps that need to be fulfilled to push gender impactful investment in the region, improving women’s equal access to finance.

The initiatives are organized by their approach to the demand and supply of funding. On the supply side, initiatives try to increase access to finance for women or invest in companies progressing gender equality. Their strategies pivot around two financial instruments: supplying women with funding and raising awareness about the importance of gender equality. However, only a few initiatives try to make investment firms more gender-equal, rather than supporting women-led SMEs to access finance or know-how. Institutions have the possibility to create supply-side incentives, such as offering tax breaks to women entrepreneurs, but they have not yet translated this idea into practice. On the demand side, many initiatives are provided by the public sector, focusing on women entrepreneurs and leaders, on developing their capacity building, skills, networks, and personal limitations to become more financially empowered.

Overall, the European investment ecosystem for women entrepreneurs and founders is still fragmented and lacks a systemic and strategic gender focus. Specific gender equality funds are scarce, and these initiatives fail to attract more women entrepreneurs.

Lastly, limited information on impact and outreach is provided, limiting the possibility of replication or increasing awareness. Defining and showing transparency and accountability on gender metrics and impact would reinforce actual and future initiatives and awareness.

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