By Arthita Banerjee
Socially responsible investing has been gaining traction as more and more investors seek to put their money where their values are. And as the industry evolves, a trend has emerged: women are taking the lead. Studies have shown that women are more likely to consider environmental and social factors when making investment decisions, and to invest in companies with diverse leadership and strong corporate social responsibility practices. These traits make women natural leaders in the socially responsible investing space.
In India, women are making waves in the impact investing industry, Sucharita Mukherjee, CEO of Kaleidofin, is making a difference in the lives of underserved communities in India. Her fintech platform provides financial solutions tailored to the specific needs of low-income communities.1 Her company has invested in projects ranging from affordable healthcare to low-cost housing, empowering individuals to achieve financial stability and independence.
Women-led investment firms are also making an impact in India’s impact investing space. Ankur Capital, led by Ritu Verma and Rema Subramanian, invests in early-stage startups working in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, and education. The firm has supported a range of innovative projects, including a company that uses AI to monitor crop health and a mobile app that helps farmers access market information.2
But why are women leading the charge in India’s impact investing space? Perhaps it’s because women are particularly attuned to the needs of their communities and are more likely to invest in companies that have a positive impact on society. Or perhaps it’s because women have historically been excluded from the traditional investment world in India, which has forced them to create their own solutions and seek out alternative investment opportunities.
In the United States, female-led SRI firms are also making a difference. Impact America Fund, founded by Kesha Cash, invests in companies with diverse leadership teams and a strong social impact mission, with a particular focus on underrepresented founders. The firm has invested in a range of projects, including a company that uses AI to help patients with chronic conditions manage their health and a platform that helps immigrants access financial services.3 Ellevest, founded by Sallie Krawcheck, invests in companies that have a positive impact on gender diversity and offers customized investment portfolios that reflect clients’ values. The firm has supported a range of projects, including a company that helps women freeze their eggs and a platform that helps women negotiate for equal pay.
The impact of female leadership in the SRI industry is undeniable. According to a report by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), as of 2021, women-led investment management teams manage 17% of impact investing assets, up from 13% in 2019. Furthermore, the same report found that gender-balanced teams achieved higher rates of return and showed stronger commitment to social and environmental impact. Additionally, a report by Morgan Stanley found that 84% of women were interested in sustainable investing, compared to 67% of men, indicating a growing interest and demand for impact investing. These statistics highlight the growing influence of women in impact investing and suggest that their leadership will continue to drive positive social and environmental change.
Jessica Matthews, founder of Uncharted Power4, had a vision to bring sustainable energy to communities lacking access to electricity. But as a Black woman in the male-dominated tech industry, she faced obstacles and scepticism. Despite this, she persisted and developed the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that generates energy through play. Matthews’ passion and determination caught the attention of impact investing firms who recognized the potential of her technology to address energy poverty.
With funding from these impact investors, Uncharted Power expanded beyond the SOCCKET to develop renewable energy products and infrastructure projects. The company’s latest partnership with the Nigerian government to build a renewable energy-powered microgrid in a rural community is a testament to the impact of female-led impact investing. This project will provide much-needed electricity to homes, schools, and businesses, and create jobs in the community.
Matthews’ story is a reminder that when we invest in women, we invest in the future of sustainable development. Female leaders in impact investing bring diverse perspectives, innovative ideas, and a passion for creating positive social and environmental impact. As more women break through barriers and lead the charge for socially responsible investing, we can expect to see even greater progress towards a more equitable and sustainable world.