May 02, 2024

Breaking Barriers: Harnessing Gender Lens Investments for Sustainable Impact and Inclusive Finance
Joint FinEquity & e-MFP webinar
May 15 at 8:00 a.m. EST / 2:00pm CET


Despite growing evidence on the business case to invest in women, persistent gender gaps remain in women's ability to access, use, and benefit from financial services. Globally, women are 7 percentage points less likely than men to have a bank account, and this gap reaches 9 percentage points in developing economies. Furthermore, women-owned businesses face a staggering $1.7 trillion financing gap, limiting their potential for growth and economic contribution. While investing in microfinance has often been seen as a strategy to reach more women , if impact investors want to go beyond just counting the number of women served they must take a deliberate and intentional approach in their investment process to achieve meaningful gender impacts.

Gender Lens Investing (GLI) is an approach to investing that recognizes these gender-based disparities and directs capital to address them, supporting the social and economic empowerment of women in pursuit of the ethical imperative of gender equity. Investors such as Women's World Banking Asset Management and BlueOrchard have been leading the way GLI in inclusive finance. The webinar provided a comprehensive understanding of GLI, its significance, and its ability to drive positive change across sectors and segments. Attendees gained insights into how GLI can enhance risk assessment, identify opportunities, and generate long-term value while promoting gender equity and women's empowerment.

The discussion also delvedinto the implications of GLI for financial inclusion players, examining its expected outcomes, potential challenges, and its role in facilitating access to finance, promoting entrepreneurship, and fostering economic growth. It was the ideal opportunity to learn from industry experts and discover how GLI can transform your investment strategies, drive social impact, and contribute to the advancement of gender equality in inclusive finance. Attendees also learned about a new initiative from the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) on creating a dedicated e-MFP GLI Action Group.


Christina (CJ) Juhasz, Institution: Women’s World Banking Asset Management
Christina (CJ) Juhasz is the Chief Investment Officer of Women’s World Banking Asset Management. She has worked for the organization since 2007, and for WWB Asset Management since its inception in 2011. She leads the management of Funds I and II for Emerging Markets, directing equity investments into Women’s World Banking’s network members and other women-focused inclusive FSPs, in order to provide responsible growth capital and demonstrate the business case for investing in women. Before transitioning into the role of the CIO, Ms. Juhasz was the director of the Women’s World Banking Capital Markets Group where she conducted and oversaw due diligence, negotiation, and structuring of direct investments in or guarantees of over $6.5 million to four network members from 2009-2011. Prior to joining Women’s World Banking in 2007, Ms. Juhasz spent 12 years structuring and marketing international secured and unsecured debt and hybrid capital transactions for banks and financial institutions globally. Ms. Juhasz earned a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Stanford University. She is a 2013 Eisenhower Fellow.

Veronika Giusti Keller, BlueOrchard Finance
Veronika heads the Impact Management Team at BlueOrchard and has over 20 years of experience in emerging markets and impact finance. She held prior positions at BlueOrchard as Head of Risk Management and in the investment origination team, responsible for the regions in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, but also other countries in Africa and Asia. She has been a voting member of BlueOrchard various committees including risk, investment and now the Impact Management Committee. Prior to BlueOrchard, Veronika worked with an international credit rating institution in Latin America and also at a European bank in the Derivatives Pricing Project Team. Veronika is an economist and holds an MSc in Economic Development from the University of Glasgow.

Juana Ramirez, Independent Consultant
Juana Ramirez is an independent consultant with over a decade of experience as a project manager, specializing in microfinance and entrepreneurship investment on a global scale. With a strong background in working group coordination and international cooperation, she has worked for the Colombian Agency of Social Prosperity, as well as for the Social Performance Task Force, ADA, and e-MFP in Luxembourg. In her recent roles at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and the European Microfinance Platform e-MFP, Juana has been instrumental in driving sustainable, green, and gender-smart investing initiatives. Her expertise extends to capacity building and research on regulatory frameworks for sustainable finance. She holds a degree in finance and international affairs from the University Externado de Colombia and is an alumni of the Solvay Business School - European Microfinance Programme. Additionally, she has earned a Master's in political science and a MSc. in Sustainable Finance and Economics from the University of Luxembourg.

Nisha Singh, FinEquity
Nisha is FinEquity's Gender Transformative Solutions Technical Lead. She has over 17 years of experience promoting access to finance and financial market systems development, with a focus on women’s economic empowerment and inclusion. Nisha worked at The SEEP Network from 2008 and 2016 to promote inclusive market systems development by building partnerships across the 120+ SEEP member organizations and associated stakeholders.


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