Empowering Women through Gender-Lens Investing

Since its founding, FINCA has placed women at the center of programming. FINCA’s founders understood that when women have access to financial services and life-enhancing goods, the benefits not only flow to the women who receive them but also to their families and communities. FINCA has carried this focus on women into its newest program, FINCA Ventures. Through the program, we partner with and invest in social enterprises that have innovative solutions to the basic needs of low-income families. And FINCA Ventures uses a gender-lens investing strategy as a cross-cutting theme throughout its portfolio.

FINCA Ventures’ gender focus ensures that women are at the table as architects for a more inclusive world and that investments benefit women. Featured below are a few recent investments demonstrating FINCA Ventures’ focus on women.

Gender-Lens Investing for Financial Inclusion

Kwara, a Kenyan-based fintech, is co-founded and led by Cynthia Wandia. The company’s product helps turn African savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs) into modern digital banks. Kwara offers SACCO customers online and mobile banking, trackable credit histories, and access to banks and ATMs. The opportunity in Kenya alone is significant. The country’s more than 15,000 SACCOs have an asset base of nearly $7 billion and serve more than 10 million members. Importantly for FINCA, most SACCO clients are women and are unbanked. Google recently selected Cynthia for its Startups Black Founders Fund.

FINCA Ventures has also invested in Jefa, a digital challenger bank exclusively focused on meeting the financial needs of women. A female-led team comprising Founder and CEO Emma Sanchez Andrade Smith, CFO Malavika Chugh and CTO Spandana Reddy run Jefa. The company is focusing initially on Mexico, where 54 percent of women are unbanked.  Emma has been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 in Technology.

Gender-Lens Investing for Health

In the health care space, a recent addition to FINCA Ventures’ portfolio is Sisu Global, co-founded by Carolyn Yarina. Sisu Global designs medical technologies for emerging markets. Its flagship product is Hemafuse, a handheld autotransfusion device. The device enables clinicians to salvage, filter and recycle blood from patients with internal bleeding. One of Hemafuse’s primary use cases is ectopic pregnancies. Carolyn Yarina has been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 in Health Care and by Entrepreneur Magazine. Gillian Henker, the CTO and primary inventor, was named Baltimore Technologist of the year.

Gender-Lens Investing for Food Security and Nutrition

NatureLock is the newest social enterprise in the FINCA Ventures agriculture portfolio. Naturelock turns surplus and ripe produce from smallholder farmers and mid-size farms into affordable and nutritious foods. Their unique technology gives the produce a long shelf life, making it more convenient for mass-market consumers in sub-Saharan Africa. Led by co-founder and CEO Anne Tei Mukunya, NatureLock looks to employ mostly single mothers and provides them daycare on the premises. In addition, the company’s distribution network targets women with the opportunity to set up microenterprises with street carts and kiosks to sell the product.

These investments in women-run companies illustrate FINCA Ventures’ commitment to a gender-lens investment strategy. The focus on products and services that benefit women builds on FINCA’s long history of empowering women as key to alleviating poverty globally.