Social investors from all over the world came together in June for the AVPN Global Conference, a four-day event held in Bali that saw 1096 delegates gather to share knowledge, build partnerships and to explore ways to address the socio-economic challenges Asia is facing.
AVPN is the world’s largest network of social investors active in Asia. It also powers the Asia Gender Network, a pan-Asian network launched in spring 2021 that is committed to mobilising money for gender equality. The conference marked the first time that members of the Asia Gender Network convened in person, and Gender was one of the key pillars of the conference alongside Climate, Livelihoods and Healthcare.
Gender lens investing is at an early stage. It aims to integrate gender analysis into the investment process with a view to mobilise capital to advance gender equality, support women’s economic empowerment and improve outcomes for women and girls. At the conference, a USD25 million Gender Fund was one of several new pooled funds announced; it will be launched at the G20 Summit in Indonesia later this year, for which the AVPN Conference is an official side event.
With four days of plenaries, breakout sessions, workshops, networking experiences and small group sessions, there was plenty to inspire and engage attendees and encourage and further the development of impact investing in the region. Below are some of the takeaways from the event.
1. For gender lens investing, there is a missing middle
Investment can be forthcoming at the initial idea stage and again at the later growth and maturity stage of a small and growing business. However, many businesses struggle to secure capital from angel investors, venture capital and financial institutions at the crucial early stages of growth. The missing middle financing gap needs to be addressed with more conversations around who can support at this stage and how innovative finance models can move capital towards the early stage. Funders need to bridge this missing middle.