African Women Impact Fund launches with USD$60m commitment

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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Standard Bank Group, with the support of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the Motor Industry Retirement Funds (MIRF) and Copartes Pension Fund and the African Union Commission (AUC), have announced the African Women Impact Fund (AWIF) Initiative’s achievement of its first commitment of USD$60 million.

The announcement was made at the inaugural The Global Africa Business Initiative, held from 18 – 19 September during the week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

The existence of gendered stereotypes and racial biases in society have detrimental effects globally. This holds true within the investment space where these prejudices obstruct female entrepreneurship, appointment of women in leadership roles, and empowerment of female fund managers. Of the $69.1 trillion of financial assets under management globally, less than 1.3% are managed by women and people of colour. It is increasingly alarming that only 7% of private equity and venture capital funding is allocated to women-led businesses in emerging markets.

The AWIF Initiative’s primary purpose is to overcome the systemic barriers and investor biases in the asset management industry, by enabling and promoting women-owned and women-led funds on the African continent.

The AWIF is an Initiative of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) together with its partners: UN Women, the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the African Union Commission, and the African Women Leadership Network. It has been established in collaboration with the Standard Bank Group as lead sponsor, MiDA Advisors as key strategic advisor, and RisCura as the investment manager and provider of manager development and support services.

The Initiative has a two-fold agenda of making a commercial impact for investors while empowering women financial leaders to drive growth in Africa. With a bold ambition to raise up to $1 billion over 10 years for women fund managers, who will in turn invest in high-impact sectors and projects across Africa, this first-of-its-kind initiative is well positioned to enable economic stimulus through sustainable and gender-inclusive capital growth opportunities.

Empowering Africa’s women in investment
The Standard Bank Group sees gender equity as both a fundamental human right and a business imperative. Lindeka Dzedze, Global Markets Head: Strategic Partnerships at Standard Bank and Chairperson of the AWIF Executive Committee explains: “Without the economic empowerment of women, the vision to raise Africa’s financial output cannot be realised. Understanding this, Standard Bank supports the AWIF Initiative to raise the profile of established women-owned and women-managed funds that participate in listed and private markets, and short-term private debt.”
As evidence of this commitment, the Standard Bank Group announced today at The Global Africa Business Initiative that $60 million will be allocated to the AWIF Initiative to accelerate its long-term ambitions.

Malcolm Fair, Chief Executive Officer at RisCura explains further: “We believe that investing with women-led asset managers supports empowerment for women in all of society. With 20 years’ experience in supporting diverse and start-up investment managers on the African continent, we are excited to manage the investments of the African Women Impact Fund and continue the journey of empowerment.”

He adds: “The commitment by African institutions to the AWIF Initiative assists us in attracting potential global institutional investors on the next fundraising drive.”

The initial $60m commitment to the Initiative includes $15m from BADEA, and $45m from The Motor Industry Retirement Funds (MIRF) and Copartes Pension Fund in South Africa. MIRF and Copartes have agreed to bring their $45m in assets recently allocated to developing start-up women fund managers in South Africa under the AWIF Initiative.

Adam Essat, MIRF and Copartes Principal Officer explains: “Through our initial commitment of $45m to the AWIF Initiative, we hope to show that institutions on the African continent believe in and support this Initiative and its objectives. We encourage global investors to take action and invest alongside us in facilitating diversity, development and empowerment in bright and unstoppable Africa.”

These funds will provide capital to existing women owners and women fund managers across different asset classes and African regions. Dr. Sidi Ould TAH Director General at BADEA says: “I believe this fund will accelerate fundraising and capital allocation by female fund managers on a transformative level. It is through barrier-braking initiatives such as these that together, we can create a sustainable and scalable investment environment that drives inclusive growth for all who live in Africa.”

Furthermore, it will give the AWIF Initiative the ability to take a big step forward in realising the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 and 8, which target gender equality, decent work, and economic growth, as well as the AU Agenda 2063.

“AWIF aims to address the fundamental gap in women’s access to financial tools. As a result, the fund contributes to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 that calls for an end to poverty. Supporting emerging African female fund managers will accelerate the representation of women-led funds. This will help close the current gender gap in labour markets, promote the emergence of women fund managers and entrepreneurs, address identified barriers to attracting capital in a sustainable manner, and increase economic output, job creation, and women’s economic empowerment and prosperity,” said Antonio Pedro, acting Executive Secretary, ECA.

Our continent’s growth drives global business
With a $2.5 trillion market opportunity, the African continent has been identified as the most important driver of global business The announcement of the first allocation of funds to the AWIF Initiative will attract and empower many talented female asset managers throughout Africa and set a precedent for a gender-inclusive asset management approach in the future.

Aymeric Saha, CEO of MiDA Advisors shared: “MiDA Advisors was honored to play a role in the creation of AWIF by facilitating the connection between all three key players in the Initiative – ECA, the Standard Bank Group, and RisCura. We feel that work on gender economic empowerment within the financial sector is not only a necessity for further economic development across the continent but is also wholly feasible with the right partnerships and programming. We look forward to the future successes of the fund managers selected, and to the impact they will in turn have in their home markets.”

About Standard Bank Group
Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets, operating in 20 African countries and 5 global financial centres. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.

Standard Bank has a 160-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s. The group has over 50 000 employees, more than 1 100 branches and over 6 500 ATMs on the African continent, which enables it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.

About ECA
Our mission is to deliver ideas and actions for an empowered and transformed Africa; informed by the 2030 Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.
The Commission is made up of 54 member States and plays a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape.

About MiDA Advisors
MiDA Advisors is a global transaction and financial advisory firm specializing in facilitating institutional investments and trade into Africa and other emerging markets. MiDA Advisors’ mission is to identify investment opportunities and provide transaction advisory services in emerging markets in partnership with development finance institutions, governments, institutional investors, businesses and research institutions. MiDA Advisors has offices in the U.S., South Africa, and Kenya.

MiDA Advisors was originally founded during the 2nd U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in 2016 under a cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The firm expanded to become an implementing partner firm engaged by USAID, private sector organizations, and corporations for development finance and transaction advisory services in 2019. In the last five years, MiDA’s network of asset owners closed on investment deals targeting Africa and other emerging markets totaling over $1 billion. For more information, visit:

About RisCura
At RisCura, investing with care is a thread that weaves through everything we do. At the heart of all our services is a shared purpose to work towards the long-term good of our clients, society and the planet. As a global leader in emerging and frontier markets, and with our diverse client base and strong African roots, we have a well-placed view on investment in Africa. Our work for some of the largest institutional investors in Africa gives us a deep understanding of the needs, challenges and opportunities for investors into the continent.

We believe that developing a more inclusive investment industry is essential to investing for a better world – one that is more representative of the demographics of the countries in which we operate. That’s why we’ve been supporting diverse start-up investment managers for over 20 years. This support is formalised through our Manager Development Programme, which aims to build diverse capacity in local markets through supporting women-owned and led firms, backing entrepreneurs, and upskilling investment industry expertise within these firms.

Experienced in establishing and managing technically intricate portfolios, RisCura launched the first multi-managed impact fund in South Africa, and we continue to demonstrate that investing should drive sustainable returns and connect to the real economy. We’re proud to manage the investments of the African Women Impact Fund Initiative which aims to deliver measurable positive impact and market-related returns by gaining exposure to a range of women-owned or led investment strategies.

Founded in 1974 by eighteen Arab countries, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) is Aa2 Moody’s rated multilateral development financial institution recognized as a reputable partner in Arab–Africa cooperation. BADEA offers a wide array of products and services for financing development in Africa. BADEA products include loans to public and private entities that finance trade, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, and social sectors, small and medium enterprises with special focus on women and youth, as well as grants for capacity development. BADEA 2030 strategy positions the bank as a flexible, effective, and reliable development partner in Africa’s transformation and progress towards 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for the African Union’s Agenda 2063).

About Motor Industry Retirement Funds and Copartes Pension Fund

The Motor Industry Retirement Funds (MIRF) and Copartes Pension Fund (Copartes) have over 250,000 members and assets under management of over R40 billion ($2.4 billion). As the objective of the Funds, the trustees want to see their members retire with sufficient asset to live with dignity in their old age. In achieving this goal, the trustees endeavour to properly invest the Funds’ assets to achieve good investment returns, operate the funds cost-effectively so that as much as possible of members’ contributions are invested and to provide excellent benefits to the members and their beneficiaries.

Source: The New Dawn

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