MEDA Doubles Down on its Commitment to Women in Latin America during the GLI Forum

1 December, 2022


As part of its commitment to creating economic, social, and environmental impact in Latin America, MEDA—an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty—recently participated as a sponsor and presenter at the GLI Forum LatAm 2022.

During the forum, MEDA led discussions related to financial instruments to achieve gender equity and climate resilience and using comprehensive approaches that combine capital and other non-financial services to create innovative financial solutions to create triple-bottom-line impact in the region. MEDA’s primary message was that investors need to understand the power dynamics within the ecosystem and the levers that can be used to create change.

Jessica Villanueva, Senior Director, Technical Areas of Practice at MEDA, moderated the panel “The Missing Middle: Using Innovative Financial Models to Reach Women-Led SMEs in Central America,” guiding a discussion between panelists Verónica Herrera from MiCrédito, María Denise Duarte from Agora Partnerships, and Lauren Murphy from ICRW Advisors.

During the panel, Villanueva argued that gender bias, lack of collateral, and limited or non- existent credit histories continue to be significant barriers to women’s access to finance, as seen in the $300 billion worldwide financing gap for women-led SMEs, and stressed the need to adjust the parameters and get creative when providing financing.

Villanueva also represented MEDA on the panel “Re-imagining Inclusive Financing with a Gender Lens” alongside David Cabrera, CEO at CENPROMYPE, and Georgina Vásquez, Program Manager at OMTRIX.

Catherine Walker, MEDA’s Senior Manager, Global Program Operations, moderated the panel “From ESG Integration to Impact: Understanding the Gender-Climate Nexus in Sustainable Finance” with Magaly Lamyin from Deetken Impact, Cynthia Leon from Add Value, and Alejandra Ramirez from NESsT.

The conversation touched on the enormous impact climate change has on the lives and well- being of thousands of women who depend on farming for their livelihoods. During the session, Walker shared MEDA’s Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) Framework, which provides a practical toolkit for assessing gender equality while applying an environment and climate change lens. During the discussion, panelists touched on how investors can use technical assistance (and tools like the GEM Framework) to integrate gender into their investment process and better understand how they can leverage the power of investment to contribute to gender equity and ensure that capital is available to everyone.

“MEDA’s GEM Framework is a practical manual and toolkit for assessing gender equality and identifying, implementing, and measuring gender equality mainstreaming strategies within companies,” said Catherine Walker. “The framework also incorporates a focus on environmental mainstreaming.”

The toolkit was recently updated to include a more integrated approach to Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion with a more robust environmental lens.

Lastly, MEDA emphasized the importance of incorporating local knowledge and expertise, which translates into an ability to analyze local gender equity and environmental issues, identify how they hinder market potential and fuel inequalities, and understand how the power of investment can be leveraged to make the changes needed to increase market efficiency. It is essential to use this local knowledge to inform how investors evaluate companies (especially women-led companies) and provide capital to meet their needs.

With its sponsorship and participation in the GLI Forum LatAm 2022, MEDA reiterated its commitment to Latin America, showing once again that it is a strong partner for women in the region and a powerful proponent of gender lens investing in agri-food systems.