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The European Investment Bank (EIB) has launched SheInvest, a new initiative to boost gender equality and female economic empowerment.

The aim is to mobilise EUR 1 billion of investment that can benefit millions of women across Africa with better access to finance and by making sustainable infrastructure services and products work for them.

This initiative was launched simultaneously at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg and at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg.

Building on experience in northern and sub-Saharan African countries as well as in gender focused lending, the EIB will step up efforts to further invest in projects, sectors and markets that have a transformative effect on gender equality and can increase the capacity of women and girls to participate in the economy and labour market.

In addition, dedicated Technical Assistance will provide capacity building and mentoring to women entrepreneurs so that they can better access finance and will support intermediaries in designing financial products tailored to their needs.

Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice-President in charge of development operations, said: “Unlocking the potential of women is key to boosting Africa’s economic growth. In several African countries many women still lack access to basic services and are excluded from the financial and labour markets, making them unable to contribute fully to their continent’s development.

As the bank of the European Union, we are committed to deliver on gender equality and are proud to be backing this important mission through the new SheInvest initiative.”

SheInvest will focus particularly on investment in innovative digital solutions and financial products to reach women and girls who are often excluded from such services. This should increase their economic opportunities and social inclusion.

The initiative also aims to promote gender-responsive climate financing, acknowledging the key role played by women in climate action and at the same time addressing their vulnerability to climate change impacts.

Investment will therefore target climate and gender responsive infrastructure projects, such as projects enhancing women’s access to water, clean, reliable and affordable energy, as well as sustainable public transport.

Investment under this initiative will be guided by the 2X Challenge criteria (https://www.2xchallenge.org/criteria), that the EU Bank adopted to increase the impact of its financing for gender equality and women economic empowerment in developing countries.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals both in Europe and beyond, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The EIB is present in more than 160 countries. To improve the impact of its activities on women and girls, the EIB adopted a Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment and a Gender Action Plan with the aim of embedding gender equality and, in particular women’s economic empowerment in the EIB’s business model covering its lending, blending and advising work within and outside the EU.

About the 2X Challenge

The “2X Challenge” calls for the G7 and other DFIs to collectively mobilise $3 billion to support women’s economic empowerment in developing countries by the end of 2020. Fulfilling one of the four criteria of the 2X challenge makes an investment eligible.

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