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March 15, 2012

Initiative of Calvert Foundation Seeks to Invest in Women
    by Robert Kropp

A $1 million grant from the Citi Foundation launches the Calvert Foundation's Women Investing in Women Initiative, which seeks to raise $20 million for economic opportunities for women.

SocialFunds.com -- With a $1 million grant from the Citi Foundation, Calvert Foundation announced on International Women's Day the launch of the Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN). The initiative seeks to raise $20 million for loans to organizations and projects creating economic opportunities for women. The Foundation anticipates that 75% of the capital raised will be invested in the US.

Citing the World Bank's finding that investing in women has a multiplier effect, the Foundation states, "Women reinvest 90% of their income in their families and communities, spending more earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement and schooling for themselves and their children." However, although women own 40% of businesses based in the US, they start with only 64% of the capital levels of men.

The fund targets entrepreneurs prevented from accessing traditional sources of capital due to credit history or the small size of a loan request. Calvert Foundation expects to deploy investment funds in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that invest in small businesses launched by women, as well as in services for low-income women and their families.

The initiative also seeks to mobilize women investors as lead providers of capital. Women, according to the Foundation, comprise nearly half of the top wealth holders in the US,and control $20 trillion in spending globally.

According to a fact sheet, every dollar of an investment of $1 thousand or more will go directly to flexible and affordable loans targeting women, and investors will realize returns of up to 2%. Investments of lesser amounts—as little as $20—can be made through the purchase of a Community Investment Note, a professionally managed portfolio consisting of loans to over 200 organizations in all 50 states and over 100 countries.

Investors can also invest through the Foundation's partner MicroPlace, a source of funding for microfinance projects.

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