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GBF’s Work with Women

Women all around the world are constantly faced with barriers; from lack of educational access and employment opportunities, to insufficient health care services and financial access, the list of inequalities they face is seemingly endless. However, what some fail to realize, is that holding back women simultaneously holds back entire economies.

As demonstrated in numerous published reports, providing women with sustainable incomes and access to services has a deeply-rooted impact on economic development. In a study recently released by the McKinsey Global Institute, findings show that if every country narrowed the gender gap by the same rate as the fastest-improving country in its region, then the global GDP would increase by an astonishing $12 trillion in 2025.

As its mission to fight poverty through business, GBF has made a commitment to create economic opportunities for women. GBF strongly believes in the vast ripple effect investing in young girls and women can have on the future. A report published by the UN stated that girls and women reallocate 90% of their earned income on the family and household, generating great economic growth. As of March 2017, GBF is impacting 500,000 women annually, amounting to 50% of GBF’s impact. It has generated a total of $24,000,000 in economic value with hopes to continue supporting women. Below are two specific GBF clients who share the belief that women are key to growing economies.

Gone Rural was formed in 1992 to create employment for women in rural communities across Swaziland. One of the most impoverished nations in the world and having the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, Swazi women nonetheless have been successfully harvesting the indigenous and sustainable “lutindizi” grass to hand-craft artisanal products. Gone Rural provides market access to more than 750 Swazi women artisans spread across 13 communities. Over 10 years, Gone Rural was able to quadruple the income of their entrepreneurs. Additionally, as part of employment, Gone Rural provides mobile clinics, HIV education, literacy courses and skills training to its female entrepreneurs.

GBF invested in Gone Rural to help provide purchase order financing, and assisted the company in developing an innovative financing structure to best run their organization.


Another one of GBF’s investees that concentrates on providing sustainable livelihoods for women is Jaipur

One of Jaipur Rugs’ 10,000 home based weavers and wool spinners shows off her loom. GBF’s investments helps Jaipur offers year-round, output based employment for thousands of rural Indians

Rugs, one of India’s most distinguished manufacturers of hand knotted rugs. Jaipur Rugs runs two programs specifically for women; “Young Women Entrepreneurship Development Programme” and the “Alternative Education Program” (AEP). The entrepreneurship program aims to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit among underprivileged women in India through skills development training. The hope is to foster creativity and empower these women to become successful businesswomen. Meanwhile, many young girls and women in small-underdeveloped towns in India have either never received an education or weren’t able to finish. In order to address this growing problem, Jaipur Rugs launched The Alternative Education Program, which focuses on providing functional literacy to these illiterate artisans. Jaipur Rugs greatly emphasizes the importance of women receiving a thorough education, as findings have shown that each additional year of secondary schooling results in a 15-25% increase in a girl’s potential income. Along with its tremendous efforts to provide economic and educational opportunities to women, Jaipur’s workforce currently consists of 60% women.

Beyond the Numbers: Our Investees and Stakeholders

Measuring impact matters–it’s how we can be sure that our investments affect people in a way that warrants the name “impact investing.” We try to make our measurement routine rigorous and transparent, without burdening our clients (you can get a peek into our process here). While our numbers rely on assumptions that require regular review, they suggest we’re moving in the right direction.

Numbers aren’t everything, of course. What matters more is how those numbers affect peoples’ lives. Over the next few months, our GBF Lima team will take the lead with qualitative assessments of some of the region’s clients, helping us better understand the people and companies behind our numbers.

If the stories our current and former clients have helped write so far are any indicator, we think that this new project will share some uplifting news.


SEWAThe Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a registered trade association of over 900,000 low-income women in Gujarat, India. SEWA allows artisan members to diversify their income by selling embroidery and other handicrafts. GBF mobilized funding for the Barefoot Managers’ School, which provides training in microfinance and livelihood activities for trainers and rural women working in the informal sector. GBF also provided support for product design development, market expansion, business plan development, and business information and evaluation systems. During GBF’s first two years of support, SEWA generated over $681,000 in revenue for low-income female artisans.

Gone Rural

Gone Rural 1Gone Rural, based in Swaziland, supplies raw materials, training, and markets for female artisans, thus providing them with substantial additional income from craft production. GBF worked closely for an extended period of time with Gone Rural’s management to develop financial forecasting tools, which allowed the company to match its capital structure to its operational and financial needs. The organization’s management still uses these tools and has expanded to a supply chain of over 760 women in remote areas of Swaziland. The female artisans directly earn 30-60% of the sale price of any artisanal good, quite high by international norms. Additionally, the artisans’ relationship with Gone Rural provides access to training and HIV awareness workshops.



BrazAfricBrazAfric addresses a critical finance gap in East Africa by providing farming coops with quality capital equipment to improve operational efficiencies. Mr. Mbithi (right) is one of the smaller scale farmers from the Kasinga cooperative society. He supports a 9-member household, with 7 in school. He delivered 1,200 kg of coffee in 2013, earning KES 71K. Approximately 1/3 of his farm is dedicated to coffee growing, with intercropped bananas sold for additional income. The rest of the land without coffee is used for subsistence food crops, particularly maize. He identified reduction in transport cost as the biggest potential benefit from BrazAfric’s mill.  You can find out more about GBF’s work with BrazAfric here.






GBF was one of three companies highlighted at CGI’s 2014 plenary meeting, where our CEO, Harold Rosen, announced our commitment to impact for the next 3 years.

Catch the video here