INSIGHT by 2XGlobal

Over 470 businesses supporting women’s economic empowerment across developing country markets received investment over the last two years.

The 2X Challenge, a flagship initiative under 2X Global, first launched at the G7 Summit 2018 as a joint commitment by the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), announced recently that it has exceeded its ambitious US$ 15 Billion target.

The initiative raised gender lens investments totaling US$ 16.3 Billion from 2021-2022, benefitting 473 businesses across Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Gender lens investments provide women with improved access to entrepreneurship, leadership opportunities, decent and skilled employment, enhanced access to finance as well as gender-smart products and services that enhance their economic participation.


Looking Ahead: 2X Global’s leadership and the next frontier of gender finance 

Gender finance gains prominence and has become a strategic priority for a wide range of capital providers in recent years, given a strong business and impact case as well as a strong nexus with climate finance.

The 2X investment criteria have quickly become a global industry standard, representing a shared definition and providing a set measurable metrics (that have been harmonised with other frameworks such as IRIS+, HIPSO, and WEPs) of what ‘good’ looks like in gender finance.

2X Global is now working with the global gender finance industry to further evolve its standard towards what ‘better’ and ‘best-in-class’ looks like, and will launch a certification mechanism in the coming months to further enhance transparency, assurance and rigour in gender finance.



“We are excited about the continued success of the 2X Challenge in unlocking gender-smart capital at scale. Today, 2X Global convenes over 100 member institutions across all global markets, so the moment has come to open up the next 2X Challenge to the full spectrum of investors. We look forward to the next chapter of the 2X Challenge with an audacious new target to be announced later this year.” 

-Jessica Espinoza, CEO of 2X Global and Chair of the 2X Challenge


“Since the launch of the 2X Women’s Initiative, DFC is proud to have catalyzed billions of dollars in investment projects that are owned or led by women, that support meaningful employment for women and that provide products or services that disproportionately benefit women. When women earn more income, they save more and invest in basic needs including housing, healthcare, education, and in small businesses, bringing benefits to their own households. At DFC, we are committed to building on this strong foundation, and look forward to working with 2X Global into the future.”  

-Scott Nathan, CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) 


“The 2X Challenge has played a pivotal role in demonstrating the business and impact case of investing with a gender lens. 2X Global has quickly grown into a global industry body at the forefront of gender finance. We look forward to further scaling and deepening this impact by collaborating with 2X members.”

-Lori Kerr, CEO of FinDev Canada, one of the founding G7 DFIs of the initiative



| Spotlights of 2X qualified gender-smart investments working toward greater financial and social outcomes:

Investments to foster innovation and resilience of gender-smart businesses in Ukraine

Horizon Capital’s latest fund HCGF IV has been awarded ‘2X Flagship Fund’ status under the 2X Challenge. The women-founded and -led private equity firm invests in fast-growing tech and export-oriented companies in Ukraine and the near region. In the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Horizon Capital raised US$ 254 million in investment capital as well as tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for the country, and have raised HCGF IV’s hard cap to $300 million to mobilize private investors prior to final closing in September. Anchor investments by select 2X member DFIs played a crucial enabling role. Horizon Capital has backed global success stories of women founders, including Creatio and BetterMe among others.


Access to capital and challenging pernicious gender norms as a route to tackling systemic inequity

Kashf Foundation is a women-led and -owned financial institution in Pakistan. It meets all of the 2X criteria, with a female founder, a female CEO, 38% women on the board, 30% women in senior management, 49% women in the workforce, and 100% women customers. Beyond spearheading access to finance for women entrepreneurs, Kashf Foundation has produced and aired first-of-its-kind awareness raising campaigns on social issues through mainstream media, holding up a mirror to society on gender inequity while positioning women as agents of change rather than victims.


Women leading digital innovation for women 

Across Latin America, the women-owned and -led company ‘Just’ empowers women creators at the bottom of the pyramid through a technology platform that enables them to grow their businesses, access global markets, and sell their products at a price premium to conscious customers. This opens up sales and development opportunities otherwise less available to female-led MSMEs, and supports their business growth and capacity development through ongoing training and education.


| Championing economic opportunities for women in Africa

DPI’s African Development Partners III Fund (“ADP III”) was the first fund to be awarded ‘2X Flagship Fund’ status. DPI’s long-standing commitment to gender equity, along with its fund’s commercial performance, recognises the power of DFI collaboration working alongside proactive fund managers to effect real development impact while generating commercial returns. DPI is intentionally supporting SDGs 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reduced inequalities) through its portfolio in Africa.


All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.