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GII launches world-first gender equality fund

By Yasmine Masi25 November 2021

Australian independent impact investing firm, Global Impact Initiative (GII) has launched its Global Gender Equality Fund, the world’s first actively managed impact investment fund concentrated on women and girls.

As a collaboration between charities Grameen Bank, the Malala Fund, UN Women, UNICEF and World Vision, the fund will invest in a portfolio of global companies selected for their recognition and promotion of gender equality and their alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Australian trustee company, Equity Trustees, has been appointed as responsible entity of the fund and global fund manager Robeco has been named the underlying fund manager. The portfolio will focus on investing in companies that actively encourage gender equality across board representation, workforce recruitment, management processes, remuneration and policies.

The fund aims to outperform the broad MSCI World index and has been designed to offer investors the option of taking the income generated in the portfolio or donating it to charities with specific programs focused on improving female social and economic empowerment, education, health and nutrition.

“This has been many years in the planning, and we are excited to be launching a Fund that offers investors the opportunity to have a significant impact on the lives and well-being of women and girls here in Australia and globally,” Giles Gunesekera, founder and CEO of GII, said.

“The fact they can do so whilst also generating attractive returns from their investments will, we hope, encourage a swathe of investors into impact investing and more importantly into the area of gender equality.

“The advantage of a fund such as this is that the bigger it gets, the more social impact we can create.”

The five chosen charities will also invest donations into programs including maternal health, vaccination programs and female education that will deliver and accelerate measurable social impact outcomes for women and girls based on the SDGs.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and founder of Grameen Bank, said Grameen’s model of combining microfinance with hands on support empowers women to help realise their own strengths and ambitions and thrive.

“The impact of microfinance has resulted not only in increased household income and savings, but has also increased women’s empowerment, reduced maternal mortality, reduced child mortality, brought down family size, and ensured that millions of children have gone to school, creating a new generation very unlike the previous ones.

“The experience of Grameen Bank and social business is a microcosm of what can happen globally if we put women at the centre of our economic and social activity,” he said.

“Having gender equality around decision making tables and integrated throughout an organisation is absolutely crucial to ensuring it’s a high performing one,” Carol Schwartz, Chair of Equity Trustees and Australia’s Leading Philanthropist of 2020, said.

“A growing cohort of investors are recognising this, and so it’s fantastic we can offer this global fund opportunity via Equity Trustees.”

The Macquarie Wrap platform, used by more than 7,000 financial advisers in the Australian market, was the first investment platform to add the fund to its menu.

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