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First-of-Its-Kind U.S. Government Blended-Finance Fund to Empower Women in Developing Markets


June 4, 2019

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Today at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Netherlands, the U.S. Government made substantial commitments to drive women's economic empowerment in developing markets. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced $500,000 in funding and $100,000 in technical assistance to the Women's World Banking Asset Management (WAM) blended-finance fund. Joining USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) announced its intent to provide $25 million in financing to the fund. The financing will help mobilize commercial investment to benefit low-income women in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific.

The WAM fund is a blended-finance vehicle designed to attract private capital in developing markets by offering protection to commercial investors by lowering the risk of loss. This blended-finance approach seeks to catalyze capital to create a $100 million fund to invest specifically in women’s financial inclusion.

With this significant level of investment, the initiative will lead to increased financial inclusion for low-income women by giving them opportunity to access loans, develop credit, build savings, and purchase insurance -- all critical to breaking the poverty cycle. The fund’s investments will expand women’s access to financial services, through customized products and digital services, to overcome challenges to financial inclusion.

USAID-funded technical assistance will expand due diligence capabilities around digital financial services and enable better assessments of financial institutions’ digital strategies, which are critical to expand the reach of their products and services to low-income women.

This partnership supports the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, a whole-of-government effort to promote women’s economic empowerment around the world. W-GDP advances workforce development and vocational education for women; enables women to succeed as entrepreneurs; and removes the barriers that prevent women from participating in the global economy.

OPIC’s investment will advance its 2X Women’s Initiative, a key component of W-GDP which has catalyzed more than $1 billion in capital to businesses and funds owned by, led by, or providing a product or service that empowers women in developing countries.

USAID’s support of this Fund through its INVEST initiative reflects a growing consensus that private investment is critical to advance countries on their journey to self-reliance.

 

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The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.

OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.