We are Goodwell Investments, a pioneering impact investment firm that invests in businesses that, with the right investment and support, generate strong financial returns and significant social impact.
As such, we have always tried to make wise and balanced decisions and to be as inclusive, diverse, and fair as possible. This is because we strive for an inclusive world where nobody is left behind. Our experience has shown us that diverse businesses perform better, and research has shown the same:
Inclusive businesses with diverse teams and inclusive companies are 6x more likely to innovate, 6x times more likely to anticipate change, and 2x more likely to meet or exceed financial targets (Deloitte, 2020).
A few years ago, we had to admit that ‘being inclusive’ is not that easy. Try as we might, we couldn’t make a real difference until we admitted that—like all businesses—our company and its processes, portfolio companies, and suppliers could be more inclusive than they already were. Of course, the issue of gender bias is highly complex. Unconscious biases, the natural internal tendency to trust and gravitate towards people who are like us (a tendency called homophily), and outdated processes were all holding us back.
So began our commitment to improving the situation. We have been on the journey for some years now, doing our best to build diverse investment teams, who in turn build diverse and inclusive investment portfolios.
In 2021, we had the opportunity to fast-track our journey when our application to Value for Women’s Technical Assistance program was successful. With the support of this team over a period of seven months, we developed a much more mature approach to gender equality. Our entire team was involved and contributed through a series of brainstorm and feedback sessions. Our organisation was thoroughly assessed, as were many of our portfolio companies. Together with Value for Women, we developed a series of practical guidance notes on how to improve our own team’s gender equity, how to create a more inclusive due diligence process, and much more.
One of the very first outcomes of the process was to develop and release a public statement of our commitment to improving gender equality in the impact investment market.
Firstly, we believe that it’s absolutely necessary to promote gender equality. As we’ve already mentioned, we know that it’s the right thing to do, and we know that everyone is better off for it.
Secondly, we always want to be transparent about our principles, values and priorities, with all our stakeholders.
And thirdly, we want to invite potential portfolio companies, investors, and the wider ecosystem who share our values into open discussions with us.
This statement formalises our commitment to gender equality and forms the foundation of several initiatives we’re currently working on.
Karl Nchite, a Senior Investment Analyst and our ESG and Impact Manager, sums it up perfectly: “Context is critical to every facet in life, and even more so within the investment realm. Greater context leads to fewer blind spots, reduced risk and better decisions. Through a focus on continuous learning, gender equity, and general diversity and inclusion, we believe our commitment to gender equality is a(nother) step towards reduced bias and superior performance.”
Goodwell Investments recognises that in our drive to fuel the growth of inclusive businesses in Africa, we must remain focused on empowering and promoting equality for all un(der)served communities. In doing so, Goodwell is committed to reducing systemic gender bias and advancing gender inclusion within our investment process and wider organisation, as well as our portfolio companies and their value chains.
Gender inclusion is imperative for poverty reduction and long-term sustainable development. It is integral to inclusive growth. Through an intentional focus on gender inclusion in our portfolio companies, Goodwell can more effectively promote inclusivity and reduce risk while delivering favourable social and financial outcomes to all stakeholders.
Goodwell’s commitment to gender inclusion encompasses our current and future portfolio companies, our investment process, and our internal organisation. In 2022 we aim to launch a new fund with an explicit focus on investing through a gender lens. We will also continue to iterate on our investment process in order to make each step more equitable for marginalised groups. We commit to further promoting gender inclusion within our portfolio companies and seek to broaden our understanding of the unique needs of marginalised entrepreneurs in Africa.
We want to do the right thing. And we know that balance and diversity in business lead to better outcomes for all stakeholders.
We thank Value for Women for sharing the following business case for gender equality:
Gender diverse businesses perform better
Solutions for women present a sizeable market opportunity
Gender equality is good for the world’s economy and sustainability
We still have a lot to learn, and we’re looking forward to growing
When it comes to something as important, complex and sensitive as gender equality, we must be transparent and admit that our work never stops. We are looking forward to take next steps and are excited and committed to maturing as a business and to growing as individuals.
We invite you to join us on this journey.
This is the first in a series of articles explaining how we are working towards greater gender inclusivity in impact investment. Please watch this space for updates about the progress we’re making, and for more information about what it means to invest through a gender lens.