Press release

DWM Releases New Report on Gender, Power, and Process in Financial Inclusion with Insights from the DWM Private Equity Portfolio


Hannah Schiff
Director of Impact

New York & Stamford, CT, USA

Sep 28, 2022

Developing World Markets just released its new report, Gender, Power, and Process in Financial Inclusion: Insights from Developing World Markets’ Private Equity Portfolio, detailing the ways inclusive financial institutions can achieve gender equity through their products and processes. In partnership with Criterion Institute, a think tank specializing in analyzing gender and power dynamics in finance, DWM created an assessment tool to probe how effectively those dynamics have been integrated into company operations. The tool was then applied to eight of DWM’s own portfolio companies, with the goal of surfacing insights that can be applied throughout the inclusive finance space.

This report used rigorous gender analysis to uncover limitations of current business processes and best practices that drive more equitable gender outcomes. After reviewing in-depth assessments of DWM’s private equity portfolio companies, DWM and Criterion Institute developed company-specific recommendations for improvement and the following key findings to help guide the gender lens investment conversation across impact investing and inclusive finance:

  • A gender-diverse staff alone will not lead to more equitable gender outcomes for clients. Even majority-female staffs require training on engagement, outreach, and power dynamics.​
  • Gender-sensitive programs can be undercut by other constraints which must be addressed. Even companies with thoughtfully designed products addressing the needs of women can struggle to effectively roll them out because the typical sourcing and origination channels, such as credit bureau data or sales agents, may have their own built-in bias. ​
  • A clear business case should be articulated to achieve gender-related targets. Initiatives around gender targets, whether internally set or externally imposed, are most likely to be achieved when the business case is made explicitly for the staff and management.​
  • Data is available, but blind spots remain on integration of feedback. For instance, inclusive financial institutions may receive feedback from a gender-representative set of customers, but integration of this feedback into product design is often not well developed or completely absent.

“Access to finance for women is a critical first step to gender equity, but is not enough on its own,” said Hannah Schiff, DWM’s Director of Impact. “This deep-dive report shows how financial institutions can go beyond counting women to make their day-to-day practices more inclusive. We’re leveraging these findings to enhance gender equity within our own portfolio right away. While DWM is still early in its gender lens investing journey, we hope this report presents a useful blueprint for other impact-focused investors, as well.”

Read our full report to learn more about how recognizing the power dynamics underlying everyday business practices is crucial to driving gender equity:

About DWM

Founded in 1994, Developing World Markets (DWM) seeks investible solutions that sustainably address the social, environmental, and economic needs of the developing world. DWM began impact investing in 1999 and shifted exclusively to impact in 2007. DWM has over two decades of experience in emerging and frontier markets. Through DWM Asset Management, LLC, the firm’s SEC-registered investment adviser, DWM has originated and managed over $2.2 billion of private debt and private equity in impact-oriented enterprises, including over 900 loan disbursements and 25 private equity stakes in more than 70 emerging and frontier countries.

As a non-EU AIFM, with vehicles regulated by Luxembourg’s CSSF and Germany’s BAFIN, longstanding partnerships in the Netherlands, Germany, and now the Nordic region, and relations with institutional investors across the continent, DWM is dedicated to serving its European investor partners, with a shared commitment to impact.

Press Contact

George Spencer, BackBay Communications