Economically Empowering Women: A Chat with the DFC’s Algene Sajery

April 5, 2022 By Michelle Bekkering

Global women’s empowerment and inclusion is foundational to achieving sustainable progress for our diplomatic and development efforts — from negotiating peace agreements to decreasing poverty rates. Data has shown that targeted investments in women’s economic empowerment is particularly powerful: closing the gender gap could increase global GDP by $28 trillion dollars per year. However, women continue to face a myriad of hurdles in achieving their economic goals. To date, more than one billion women do not have access to financial systems, and women entrepreneurs face a $300 billion credit gap when it comes to financing their small and medium enterprises.  I recently sat down with Algene Sajery, Vice President of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), to talk about the DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative and the impact its having around the world.

The DFC is America’s premier development finance institution. Partnering with the private sector and U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development, the DFC works to identify and fund solutions to the challenges the developing world is facing. Through advancing American foreign policy and American commercial competitiveness, the DFC works to create economic returns for the American taxpayer. By investing in developing country markets, the DFC helps support American businesses abroad and gives them a foothold in these fast-growing markets.

Vital to DFC’s mission is its commitment to applying a gender lens to every project it finances to help benefit women in developing markets. Launched in 2018, the 2X Women’s Initiative is a dedicated initiative from the DFC to address the unique challenges women face globally and unlocking the multi-trillion dollar opportunity they represent. To date, the Initiative has catalyzed more than $13.5 billion of investment in projects. Many of these investments are designed to open financial access and credit for women and women-centric businesses. For example, in India, the DFC will support over 500 loans to low-income borrowers through an organization called ManiBhavnam. DFC is also a founding member of the 2X Challenge which galvanized momentum among Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) around the globe to strengthen women’s economic empowerment, including setting a new $15 billion target for gender-lens investments in 2021.

Watch our conversation to learn more about the success of the 2X Initiative and about Algene’s own personal dedication to women’s empowerment initiatives.