GII launch gender equality impact fund

Global Impact Initiative (GII) has launched an actively managed equity impact investment fund focused on women and girls, available to retail investors.

The Global Gender Equality Fund is the world's first, actively managed, impact investment fund focused on women and girls.

"We've been developing this fund for about four years in line with our business mission and vision," said GII founder and CEO Giles Gunesekera. "We're all about mainstreaming impact investing and doing it at scale. We wanted to develop a fund that had the ability to scale, but was also very, very focused on ensuring there was a solution for women and girls."

The fund focuses on investing in companies in four areas - education, health, nutrition, and social and economic empowerment. Those companies map to six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - SDG3, good health and well-being, SDG4, quality education, SDG5 gender equality, SDG8, decent work and economic growth, SDG10, reduced inequalities, and SDG17, partnerships for the goals.

"We did an active global search and we appointed Robeco to manage the portfolio," Gunesekera said. "They have a sensational track record in sustainability, they walk the talk."

In addition to the positive tilts towards those four areas, the fund aims to outperform the broad MSCI World index (Developed and Emerging Markets). In addition, GII also screens out exposure to alcohol, gaming, tobacco, weapons, fossil fuels and adult entertainment companies in the portfolio.

The strategy currently holds positions in 60 companies, out of an available universe of 3,000 companies.

The fund is available on Macquarie Wrap with an initial investment size of $5,000, and Gunesekera said they are in active conversation to list with other platforms.

There are two different investment units for the fund. Gunesekera explained that Class A units gives investors the capital return of the shares plus any income from the portfolio via dividends. Class B units provide the capital return, but the income is donated to five charities that GII have selected as partners.

A third option allows people to donate directly to the five funds without investing in the fund.

The five charities are Grameen, Malala Fund, UN Women, UNICEF and World Vision. These charities will invest donations into programs such as maternal health, vaccination programs and girls' education that will provide measurable social impact outcomes.

The fund was designed to be accessible to retail investors, Gunesekera said.

"Our vision is around mainstreaming impact and doing it at scale," he said. "It has to work, but it has to be accessible to everyone."

Equity Trustees has been appointed as responsible entity of the fund.

"Having gender equality around decision making tables and integrated throughout an organisation is absolutely crucial to ensuring it's a high performing one," said Equity Trustees chair Carol Schwartz. " A growing cohort of investors are recognising this, and so it's fantastic we can offer this global fund opportunity via Equity Trustees.

The Australian fund feeds into the GII Global Gender Equality Fund, which was established in 2020 as a UCITs in Ireland by Equity Trustees and is marketed to investors in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Read more: Equity TrusteesGlobal Impact InitiativeCarol SchwartzGII Global Gender Equality FundGiles GunesekeraMacquarie WrapRobeco