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News > Investors

USAID and OPIC back blended-finance fund to empower women in developing markets

Anna Lyudvig
June 6, 2019, 9:48 p.m.

Word count: 505

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced $500,000 in funding and $100,000 in technical assistance to the Women's World Banking Asset Management (WAM) blended-finance fund.

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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has 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) has announced its intent to provide $25m 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.

“This blended finance with USAID working together with $500,000, as well as OPIC, with an intent to invest $25 million, really has an opportunity to allow women to be able to access credit, to be able to develop their own loans, to be able to really break the cycle of poverty,” said OPIC Acting President and CEO David Bohigian.

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 $100m 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 $1bn 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.

Bonnie Glick, USAID Deputy Administrator, said: “The blended finance approach offers USAID an effective tool to empower women to reach their full economic potential, and to create more self-reliant communities. For investors, blended finance can shift the balance between risk and return in frontier and emerging markets, opening up new opportunities for investment. For donors of foreign assistance, it can close gaps in development financing, and ease some of the toughest global challenges that we face.”

“By investing in women, USAID is enabling countries to progress beyond assistance, by unlocking human potential on a transformational scale. We're pleased to work with our partner, OPIC, to overcome the barriers to the full and equal inclusion of women in the formal economy.”

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