Zurich-based impact asset manager responsAbility Investments announced that its recently launched Climate Fund has qualified for the 2X Challenge, a leading initiative deploying and mobilizing capital to empower women and enhance their economic participation in emerging markets.

The climate fund announced its first close in January 2020. It is a private debt fund, aimed at addressing the lack of access to clean power globally with a strong focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia. The fund was set up as a blended finance structure offering different risk tranches and has received commitments from a number of prominent public and private investors.

Antoine Prédour, Head of Climate Finance at responsAbility, said:

“Success always includes a holistic outlook and I am proud to be part of this initiative. It’s about time that gender equality is being considered a must, no matter the type of investment.”

The 2X Challenge was established in 2018 by the development finance institutions (DFI) of the G7, with the goal to mobilize $3 billion in commitments to provide women in developing country markets with improved access to leadership opportunities, quality employment, finance, enterprise support and products and services that enhance economic participation and access. The challenge exceeded its $3 billion target earlier this year.

In order to qualify for the 2X Challenge, a fund must meet the Employment Criteria with at least 50% of its portfolio companies actively improving and providing quality employment for women. According to responsAbility, the fund’s qualification is particularly notable, as energy is one of the least gender diverse sectors with only 32% of the workforce being women.

responsAbility is supported by FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, and the European Investment Bank (EIB). FMO is a member of the 2X Challenge and the EIB has adopted the 2X Challenge Criteria.

Jorim Schraven, Director Impact and ESG at FMO, the Dutch development bank, said:

“We applaud and support responsAbility’s commitment to apply a gender-smart investment lens to its climate fund and to joining the 2X Challenge. We see responsAbility’s climate fund setting an example by supporting women’s economic empowerment in the energy sector, and we are looking forward to partnering together to deliver towards the climate action and gender equality SDGs.”

Thomas Östros, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) said:

“Supporting gender smart investment is smart economics. It is vital to enhance business productivity and to catalyse economic growth, social cohesion and social justice. As the EU bank, together with our partners, we are committed to ensuring that our investments benefit all parts of our communities equally. I am very proud to be supporting responsAbility’s climate fund with FMO, which qualified today for the 2X Challenge.”