Alongside the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the Open Society Foundations and the Economic Advancement Program’s Soros Economic Development Fund invite proposals for funds from investment fund managers whose funds support companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa that support women working in the informal economy to submit proposals for investment.
Open Society is looking to invest in private equity and venture capital funds whose companies target products and services that recognize the power and voice of women working in the informal economy, and enhance their productivity, wealth, and power in society. Open Society has particular interest in investments that address the structural barriers that women working in the informal sector face, with the ultimate goal of increasing women’s agency and economic benefit.
The International Labour Organization currently estimates that 90 percent of women workers in Sub-Saharan Africa are in the informal economy. Women working in the informal economy includes a broad range of activity; for example, it may include work in trade, transport, manufacturing, construction, and domestic work. Open Society is committed to using investment capital to support funds that enable multiple stakeholders to work together to overcome gender barriers, including social and economic norms. Examples may include economic and social benefits gained from access to health services, childcare, safe transport and accommodation, productive resources (water, energy, land), logistics services (trucking, cold storage, warehousing), infrastructure (safe buildings/workplaces, sanitation), products and services that reduce labor, appropriate financial services (payment, insurance, savings, loans), information (including information and communication technologies), and markets (e.g., schemes which purchase product).
Open Society is soliciting interest from fund managers whose funds support companies that reduce structural barriers for women working in the informal economy. Diverse and first-time fund managers are encouraged to apply. Open Society is particularly interested in funding managers whose investment theses look at dimensions of intersectionality including class, race, sexual orientation, age, and disability. On a more limited basis, the organization will also consider direct investment opportunities, in the form of debt and equity, in organizations whose product or services directly serve women working in the informal sector.
Funds should submit investment proposal or private placement memos electronically to [email protected]undations.org.
The Open Society Foundations will consider investments (with a strong preference toward limited partnership commitments), we will consider investments in the range of one to five million dollars. This is not a call for grant support. Funds will be reviewed on a rolling basis until March 31, 2019.