Gender equality

Norfund is committed to promote gender equality, in our own organisation and in our portfolio companies.

Norfund was one of the first development finance institutions to develop a Gender Strategy in 2016.

A new gender position

In 2020, Norfund’s new Gender Position was developed based on the previous strategy and consultations with internal and external stakeholders. Norfund reports annually on the Gender Position and the related action plan to the Board of Directors.

Norfund’s position on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment has three objectives:

  1. To ensure equal opportunities and promote gender balance across all levels in Norfund
  2. To promote equal opportunities for men and women across all levels in investee companies and through access to finance
  3. To engage with relevant stakeholders to learn and where possible influence others to promote gender equality
Marginpar, Kenya

Gender balance in Norfund

Norfund recognises the importance of starting with our own organisation. We track the gender balance in our own organisation annually.

Status 2020

Gender balance in Norfund’s portfolio companies

Each year, we collect gender-disaggregated data from all investees. This enables us to carry out gender analyses at investee and portfolio level, and helps us to create awareness, both internally and externally.

Status 2020

Disproportional impact of COVID-19 on women

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of promoting gender equality has increased. The pandemic has impacted women disproportionally, among others, through employment losses and decrease in labour force participation due to increased care burden (ILO). 

In 2020, the number of direct jobs held by females decreased by 1 700 jobs, or 2 per cent, within the Norfund’s portfolio companies (with two consecutive years of reporting)* .

* Includes investees directly in Norfund portfolio as well as investees through platforms and funds

Equity bank agent, Kenya

Jobs indirectly supported through Norfund’s portfolio companies

Literature suggests that direct employment is only a fraction of the indirect employment that is supported by an investment. Norfund applies the Joint Impact Model (JIM) to estimate such indirect employment impacts supported through our portfolio companies, also dis-aggregated by gender.

The indirect employment impacts are divided in backward effects, from local purchases and spending of wages, and enabled effects, from power produced and loans provided by banks and other financial institutions.

The model is applied on a subset of Norfund’s active portfolio by end of 2020, direct or through funds, for which sufficient data are available.

Jobs indirectly supported


held by women supported in supply chains


held by women supported through spending of wages


finance-enabled jobs held by women through loans from banks and other financial institutions

The subset covers 54 per cent of Norfund’s portfolio companies, direct and through funds, or 87% of committed capital by end of 2020. Norfund uses ex-post estimations and figures are reported without attribution.

Promoting gender equality through the Business Support Program

In 2020, Norfund approved two new Business Support projects focusing on gender equality. 

Gender empowerment as part of capacity development: 

Over the next three years, Norfund will support the ResponsAbility Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) that is active mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and in South and Southeast Asia. Through the TAF, the fund’s early stage and portfolio companies are supported with advisory services, capacity development and exchange of best practices in the sector. Gender empowerment initiatives are supported as part of capacity development. Examples include setting up gender-smart policies, sales training targeting women and establishing HR policies that address gender equality. 

Training women in the local community:

The second Business Support project is run in partnership with ENEL Green Power India, in which Norfund will support local community development surrounding a wind power project. As part of these initiatives, the focus is on women’s empowerment by providing skills and leadership training.