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AP2 Announces $30 Million Investment in the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility

First-Ever Global Finance Facility to Help Close the Global Credit Gap for Women

May 17, 2016 – The Second Swedish National Pension Fund, AP2, is taking yet another important step in the field of sustainability and today announced a $30MM investment in the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF), the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women and International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) partnership to increase access to capital for women entrepreneurs. Launched in 2014, the first-of-its-kind $600 million finance Facility aims to spur lending in developing countries to help close an estimated $285 billion global credit gap for women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and enable up to 100,000 women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

“Women in developing countries are an under-utilized resource, capable of boosting company profits and contributing to increased prosperity. They are often hampered by poorer employment conditions and lower incomes than men, as well as a lack of access to the capital needed to grow their businesses. They are also often prevented from owning and inheriting land and other assets. These are obstacles we wish to help them overcome, while also making a sound financial investment,” explains CEO Eva Halvarsson, AP2.

“Research has shown that investing in women entrepreneurs can drive significant global growth and opportunity and improve societies,” said Dina Habib Powell, head of Goldman Sachs’ Impact Investing business and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. “Increasingly, informed investors like AP2 are looking for innovative models that both make an impact and generate a return. This partnership with IFC, which has catalyzed new investments from both the public and private sectors, highlights the increased interest in investing in this space to close the capital gap for women-owned SMEs.”

IFC’s Banking on Women program is playing a catalytic role in helping financial institutions meet the needs of women entrepreneurs in a sustainable and profitable way. Since its launch in 2010, the program has made 33 investments globally totalling almost $1 billion.

Marcos Brujis, Global Director, Financial Institutions Group IFC said “Investing in women can change the face of the global economy, and is a strategic priority for IFC. This growing partnership and commitment will be critical in helping to close this credit gap, boosting support for women-owned SMEs, which can be key drivers of employment and economic growth.” 

Since the Facility was launched in 2014, this public-private partnership, spurred by private sector innovation, has catalyzed new co-investments from both the public and private sectors. To date, it has made over 20 commitments to banks in 14 countries, increasing lending to 25,000 women entrepreneurs in countries from China to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Brazil. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women and IFC provided anchor investments to create the Facility and are working with local banks in emerging markets to catalyze existing capital for women-owned SMEs by addressing barriers in the lending market such as unsuitable product offerings and credit terms. 

“Part of our portfolio is invested in emerging markets and our perspective is very much based on a long-term approach. Through this investment we contribute to further long-term economic growth in these countries. This benefits our overall portfolio in the long term, which in turn benefits our pension fund beneficiaries. That we are simultaneously contributing to a better future for these women and their enterprises is something we can be proud of, and I hope others will join us in this type of investment initiative in future,” says Eva Halvarsson.
 

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