MEDA promotes gender equality at an impact investing forum in Guatemala

Above: Catherine Walker (left) moderating the "ESG integration to impact: understanding gender-climate nexus in sustainable finance: panel

Antigua, Guatemala – MEDA was a co-sponsor and presenter of the Gender Lens Investing Forum and the Latin America Impact Investment Forum 2022 (GLI Forum LATAM) in Latin America. This forum took place from November 7th-10th. In partnership with The Latin America Impact Investment Forum (FLII), and co-organized by Pro Mujer and Alterna, the forum served as a key platform for learning, discussion, and networking on impact investing in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event focused on how gender lens investing is an effective driver of equality and economic development in the region.

During the forum, MEDA led discussions related to innovative finance solutions that can spur long-term economic, social, and environmental impact. Jessica Villanueva, MEDA’s Senior Director for Technical Areas of Practice, served as moderator during “The Unattended Segment: Using Innovative Financial Models to Reach Women-Led SMEs in Central America” seminar, with the participation of Veronica Herrera from MiCredito, Lauren Murphy from the International Center for Research on Women, and Maria Denise Duarte from Agora Partnerships. Jessica also represented MEDA in the panel “Reimagining Inclusive Finance with Gender Lens” alongside David Cabrera and Margarita Zaldaña from Centromype, and Alex Silva and Georgina Vasquez from OMTRIX. Catherine Walker, MEDA’s Senior Manager, Global Program Operations, moderated the “From ESG integration to impact: understanding gender-climate nexus in sustainable finance” panel with the participation of Magaly Lamyin from The Deetken Group, Cynthia Leon from Add Value, and Alejandra Ramirez from NESsT.

The forum focused on the access to financing challenges women-owned SMEs face when making their businesses more competitive and environmentally sustainable. Despite SMEs’ vital role in emerging economies, there is still a $300 billion financing gap worldwide for formal, women-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses from the Global South also have difficulty accessing climate finance to become more climate-change resilient. Access to climate finance is critical – women are highly vulnerable to environmental impacts, including climate variability and natural disasters.

By providing women with greater decision-making powers and access to capital, they can act as “agents of change” in their households and communities to foster sustainable development. Access to these resources can also enhance their economic potential, reduce inequality, and strengthen climate finance’s impact and effectiveness.

MEDA ensures its projects create equitable and sustainable economic growth for communities in Central America and beyond. With support from Global Affairs Canada, MEDA’s WE4CA project will reach 5,000 women and young women in Central America, including rural and indigenous populations in the regenerative agriculture and light manufacturing sectors as well as support the continued uptake of GLI approaches within the region. We further support rural people, especially women, in Nicaragua through the Technolinks+ project.

MEDA’s Gender Equality mainstreaming Framework (GEM), provides a practical toolkit for assessing gender equality, and identifying, implementing, and measuring gender equality mainstreaming strategies within companies while applying an environment and climate change lens. The toolkit was recently updated to include a more integrated approach to Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) with a stronger environmental lens.

Nadia Guerch, MEDA Senior Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, enthusiastically supports the role of the forum in facilitating meaningful conversation and ideas among like-minded partners in the gender lens investment space.

“MEDA is pleased to co-sponsor and participate in this forum alongside like-minded practitioners and investors to continue building the business case for gender lens investing,” says Nadia Guerch, MEDA Senior Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “With a focus on agri-food systems, MEDA seeks to contribute to sustainable and equitable economic growth, leveraging investment strategically in areas that can promote greater gender equality and empower individuals to manage natural resources sustainably and address climate change.”

– Nadia Guerch

MEDA firmly believes that combining climate and gender policies can unlock huge untapped opportunities, provide good investment returns, and contribute to positive social and environmental outcomes. Using this approach, we can help build healthy and sustainable livelihoods, businesses, and decent work opportunities for small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs.



  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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