Beyond Aid is a series from MEDA and ImpactAlpha exploring new tools for sustainable development.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it will take between $5 - $7 trillion US. On their own, current levels of Official Development Assistance are not enough, resulting in an investment gap in developing countries of about $2.5 trillion.
That’s a challenge. But MEDA, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, is tackling this issue head on through blended finance.
Women are key drivers of economic growth, engaging in business as consumers, employees, leaders, suppliers and community stakeholders. Yet, women are frequently overlooked and underrepresented in the private sector throughout the world. 2017 marked the first year that the Global Gender Gap – an index measuring 144 countries’ gender disparity in health, education, politics and the workplace – worsened since its inception in 2006 (WEF). Recent events like the #MeToo campaign signal a sea of change for the world, including the corporate sphere. This is good news, since $28 trillion could be added to annual global GDP by 2025 if women participated in the economy at the same level as men (McKinsey, 2015). Businesses and investors who seek to understand and respond to the barriers women face will be rewarded – both in terms of growth and impact.
While impact investing has become a buzzword in global development in recent years, the concept and practice had been around for decades before the sector even had a name. To take one perhaps under-recognized example, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) was launched as an investment club in 1953, when a group of North American Mennonite business people joined together to support the development of businesses in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.