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Impact investment manager to support women-led SMEs

Released at: 19:57, 24/08/2017

Impact investment manager to support women-led SMEs

Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

SEAF Women's Opportunity Fund to seek opportunities to make equity and structured debt investments in SMEs led by women in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

by Thu Hoang

SEAF, a global impact investment manager headquartered in Washington D.C., recently announced the launch of the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund (SWOF) for Southeast Asia.

The Fund will seek opportunities to make equity and structured debt investments in small-and-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) led by women in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

SWOF targets transaction sizes of generally between $500,000 and $2 million in growth-oriented companies. As an impact investment fund, it also looks for businesses that have positive social and environmental impacts in addition to financial returns.

“SMEs owned by women account for 25 per cent of the total number in Vietnam and typically focus on services; a ‘greener’ sector of the economy” noted Ms. Dinh Thu Trang, SWOF’s Investment Director in Vietnam.

A 2016 study on SMEs in Vietnam owned by women showed that one of their major disadvantages compared to those managed by men is that it is generally more difficult to access sources of funding as well as markets, due to cultural factors and social obstacles. This is a gap in the capital market but also an opportunity for an impact investment fund like SWOF.

“The Fund’s establishment, together with other sources of funding that prioritize female entrepreneurs, will contribute to economic growth as well as increasing women’s standing and narrowing the gender gap,” Ms. Trang added.

SWOF is managed by SEAF and will comply with SEAF’s global environmental, social, and governance standards. Businesses funded by SWOF will also benefit from post-investment support, particularly in the areas of financial management and corporate governance.

SEAF is an investment management group that provides growth capital and business assistance to SMEs in emerging and transition markets underserved by traditional sources of capital.

Headquartered in Washington D.C., through its network of over 30 offices around the world it invests in entrepreneurs to build successful businesses and hopes to realize both attractive returns for its investors and a measurable development impact on local communities.

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