Deetken Impact and Pro Mujer receive US$1.3M from USAID to advance gender equality and promote gender smart practices in SMEs in Latin America

Deetken Impact and Pro Mujer receive US$1.3 million from USAID to augment the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Fund through three main components—incremental capital, technical assistance, and knowledge dissemination and advocacy.

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Vancouver, BC – Impact asset manager Deetken Impact and mission-driven social enterprise Pro Mujer today announce a partnership with USAID to advance women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. Deetken Impact and Pro Mujer, joint venture partners in the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Fund (the Ilu Fund), are creating a program to advance gender equality in the Latin America and Caribbean region through three main components—incremental capital, technical assistance, and knowledge dissemination and advocacy.

Additional funding towards women’s empowerment

Deetken Impact will use blended finance capital to expand the Ilu Fund by US$5 million, which will be channeled into new and existing portfolio companies that are weathering current economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for recovery.

To date, the Ilu Fund has committed over US$27 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on women’s financial inclusion. “Thanks to this initiative, we are launching a new blended finance product that will allow investors to support the fund with added protection from pandemic and post-pandemic risks,” said Jose Lamyin, Managing Partner at Deetken Impact.

Gender smart technical assistance

Through a tailored acceleration and engagement program, the Ilu Fund team will assist companies in strengthening their gender smart business practices to improve their business performance, attract more capital from Gender Lens Investing (GLI) and non-GLI investors, and advance gender equality and opportunities for women in the communities where they operate. “Ilu Fund portfolio companies have shown strong receptivity to new approaches that embed gender considerations into their broader business strategy. We are now in a position to incubate and accelerate these initiatives to support gender leadership in our portfolio and in the region more broadly,” commented Alexa Blain, Managing Partner of Deetken Impact.

The customized program will focus on areas of opportunity relevant to the pandemic and post-pandemic context, and it will align with one or more of the Ilu Fund’s gender lenses, which include:

  1. Women in ownership, leadership, and governance;
  2. Products and services that improve the lives of women and girls, diversity of products, and equity in product marketing & design;
  3.  Workplace equity in staffing, management, retention, career progression, and workplace environment; and
  4. Gender-informed information systems including gender disaggregated data and analysis.

Knowledge dissemination and advocacy to expand the GLI ecosystem

The Ilu Fund team will support the broader GLI ecosystem in Latin America and the Caribbean through knowledge dissemination and advocacy and by building the business case for gender lens investing and gender-smart business practices in the region. This effort will include the development of an open source toolkit, regional workshops, events, case studies, and investor education. “This initiative plays a significant role in establishing the field of gender lens investing in Latin America. Data has consistently shown that gender diversity leads to economic prosperity, more productive companies, higher revenues, and increased market value. Most importantly, gender lens investing fosters gender equality, which results in access to education, healthcare, and decent job opportunities for girls and women,” shared Maria Cavalcanti, President and CEO of Pro Mujer.

About Deetken Impact:
Deetken Impact is a Canadian registered investment fund manager with a 10-year track record of delivering strong, stable returns to investors by supporting businesses that make a meaningful contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. Together with its affiliate, Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy, Deetken Impact currently manages US$100 million in impact assets. Deetken Impact is a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy is a 2020 Impact Assets 50 Manager and a signatory of the IFC Operating Impact Principles.

About Pro Mujer:
Founded in 1990, Pro Mujer is a mission-driven social enterprise that empowers women in Latin America through a suite of financial, health, and education services. Over the past 30 years, Pro Mujer has disbursed US$4 billion in small loans, provided over 10 million health interventions, and positively affected two million women across Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. Pro Mujer has played a significant role in establishing the field of gender lens investing in Latin America.

About USAID:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.