The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has partnered with the Southeast Asia Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund (SWEEF) to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Southeast Asia. Agreements were signed last week with AIIB committing up to USD10 million to the fund.
SWEEF is a closed-end private equity fund specialized in financing women’s economic empowerment by investing equity and quasi-equity capital into growth-stage businesses. By partnering with SWEEF, AIIB commits to closing the gender gap, enhancing gender equality and maximizing the beneficial impact of its investments. AIIB’s contribution to the fund is also expected to mobilize more private capital from future potential investors who seek to support gender-focused investments in emerging Asia.
“AIIB believes that investing in women—their professional development on an individual level, building capital for women-led SMEs on a corporate level and improving gender equality in the marketplace and in the workplace—ultimately contributes positively to the development of our society,” said Dong-ik Lee, AIIB Director General, Banking Department (Region 1). “AIIB is committed to mobilizing private capital and resources for women entrepreneurs and supporting private equity funds dedicated to advancing women’s socioeconomic development.”
To strengthen the investment’s contribution to gender equality, diversity and climate finance, AIIB has designed a sustainability-linked performance scheme where the fund manager's compensation is linked to three sustainability performance targets, namely (1) women-owned/led businesses, (2) demonstrated gender improvements over time and (3) climate disclosure.
“This project marks AIIB’s first impact investment in a gender-focused private equity fund and further contributes to building AIIB’s knowledge and capacity in gender-focused investments,” said AIIB Senior Investment Officer Thomas Walenta. “With the main end-beneficiaries including SMEs from the healthcare and education sectors, the project increases the Bank’s exposure to social infrastructure, especially from the perspective of gender lens investing.”
The issue of gender gaps in infrastructure investment highlights how women remain disproportionately affected by inadequate infrastructure and the lack thereof. AIIB has been working to identify and promote possible solutions to reduce gender gaps in relation to infrastructure, such as the use of relevant metrics and data collection methods to adequately evaluate these gaps.
“This project—focused exclusively on women’s empowerment—is putting these considerations into action and is testimony to AIIB’s firm commitment to improving women’s experience and gender equality, more generally in terms of access, economic benefit and use of infrastructure,” said AIIB Investment Officer Danni Li.
For more information, please read Advancing Women Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia—A Look at AIIB’s First Investment in a Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank whose mission is financing the Infrastructure for Tomorrow—infrastructure with sustainability at its core. We began operations in Beijing in January 2016 and have since grown to 106 approved members worldwide. We are capitalized at USD100 billion and Triple-A-rated by the major international credit rating agencies. Working with partners, AIIB meets clients’ needs by unlocking new capital and investing in infrastructure that is green, technology-enabled and promotes regional connectivity.