Ahead of tomorrow, GoGirl Finance would like to wish all of our followers a very happy International Women’s Day!
As we take a moment to reflect on the social, political and economic progress women have made since International Women’s Day was first recognized in the early 1900s, it is also exciting to think about the growing momentum and number of organizations that now exist with missions dedicated to improving women’s lives. From increasing the numbers of women on corporate boards, to encouraging women and girls to explore careers in technology, to supporting the lives of women and girls in the developing world, there is much reason for women to dream and do bigger than ever before.
Moreover, as Goldman Sachs has stated in their proprietary research, “investing in women is the most effective way to reduce inequality and facilitated economic growth”
To that end, the team at GoGirl Finance has come up with three ways you can celebrate International Women’s Day – either by donating to women-focused causes, by purchasing consumer goods from companies with strong social values, or even directly investing in women entrepreneurs.
1. As a philanthropist
Chime for Change, a new venture launched this week by Beyonce, Salma Hayek, and Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini, is partnering with Catapult to raise funds for non-profit organizations that work for women and girls. With the strapline, “None of us can move forward, if half of us are held back,” the platform lists projects across a plethora of issues including health, environment, education, and family planning.
This is the first “crowd-funding platform dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women.”
2. As a consumer
Given that women control 85% of consumer spending, we have enormous potential to drive change by supporting brands that support women via their products, their services, as well as via their corporate social agenda. Several multinational companies participate in HerProjects which link these “companies and their factories to local NGOs to create sustainable workplace programs that increase women’s health awareness.” Building on this model, Timberland is participating in a HERFinance project which will teach factory workers basic financial literacy skills.
On a smaller scale, fantastic social enterprises are being set up with social responsibility as their primary reason for being. AbleMade is a great example of a new company that combines “inspiration and impact” in a shopping experience. No more guilt about buying jewelry, clothes, or handbags – purchase something beautiful knowing that part of the proceeds go towards a worthy cause.
3. As an investor
With research proving that companies who have more women on their boards and greater equality across the supply chain enjoy better financial returns, we’re seeing a new paradigm emerge. “Gender lens investing,” per Criterion Ventures, is “making investment decisions that benefit women and girls while seeking a financial return.”
Women can participate in gender lens investing in multiple ways – one option is to participate in increasing the level of capital available to women-led companies by becoming an angel investor. Pipeline Fellowship – an education program for new angel investors – guides women through the early stage investment process. Each cohort commits to making a group investment in a women-led for-profit social enterprise at the end of the program.
Alternatively, microfinance platforms offer a more accessible way to invest in women-led businesses. While this does not produce a return, it enables a participant to directly support small businesses in developing countries and has proven particularly effective in driving women’s entrepreneurship thereby lifting communities out of poverty. Kiva, for example, operates in multiple countries across Asia, South America and Africa allowing participants to make loans in $25 increments and donate to the ongoing operations of Kiva itself.