Norfund is committed to supporting the economic empowerment of women, and we follow Norway’s foreign and development policies and guidelines on women’s rights and gender equality. Norfund’s strategy for gender equality and women’s economic participation has three objectives:

  1. Promote equal opportunities for men and women;
  2. Encourage female participation in management and on corporate boards; and
  3. Support women’s enterprises and self-employment.

Norfund is committed to addressing gender equality in our own organisation, in our investments, and through our grant interventions and external communications. In 2017, Norfund implemented several initiatives to promote gender equality.

Taking stock and raising awareness

Each year, we collect data on the gender balance of our portfolio companies. Gender equality varies in different business areas, and data shows that financial institutions and funds typically have a better gender balance than the energy and agribusiness sectors.

In 2017, Norfund benchmarked data from our investee companies in energy, financial institutions and funds and compared these to global data from these sectors. The benchmarking exercise showed that the gender balance in our investee companies is either the same as the average level in these sectors, or better.

Women in financial institutions

Workshops were held in Norfund’s investment departments to discuss barriers to women’s participation, and how we can work to promote gender equality. Norfund met with other DFIs and Norwegian NGOs to discuss gender strategies and to share lessons learned. The participants agreed on the importance of starting with own organisation to ensure credibility and discussed approaches for raising awareness internally and with partners.

Leadership and boardroom competence

Norfund has noted that women are underrepresented at the management level in our investee companies and on corporate boards. We are supporting female talent in our portfolio companies in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to participate in Female Future – a leadership and boardroom competence development programme created by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). The programme was established in Norway in 2003 and has since been rolled out to other countries in cooperation with national employers’ organisations.

NHO and Norfund are currently exploring local interest in establishing the Female Future programme in Ghana, and plan to launch the programme there in 2018.

Conference on women in leadership

In November 2017, Norfund partnered with Care Norway and NHO to organise a conference on women in leadership. The conference aimed to strengthen participants’ understanding of the barriers that hinder women’s participation in management. The conference showcased successful initiatives that investors and businesses have implemented to promote women’s leadership.

Entrepreneurship training

Supporting women’s entrepreneurship is another priority area for Norfund. We have provided funding from our Grant Facility to support Equity Bank’s Entrepreneurship programme for a second year. The training programme facilitates the growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. Norfund requires at least 50 percent of participants to be women or women-owned enterprises.


Overview of initatives
Objective 1: Promote Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
- Ensure gender neutral recruitment in Norfund
- Ensure equal pay for equal work in Norfund
- Map gender balance in portfolio companies and benchmark against sector averages
- Identify barriers to gender equality and best-practice initiatives
- Organise dialogue meeting with NGOs
- Actively participate in DFI exchanges on gender and investments
- Improve gender balance in external events
Objective 2: Encourage Female Participation in Management and on Boards
- Identify more female candidates for external board positions
- Map gender balances in investee boards of directors
- Raise awareness of gender equality among external board members
- Support leadership and board competence training (Female Future programme)
- Organise a conference on women in leadership in cooperation with Care Norway and NHO
Objective 3: Support Women’s Enterprise and Self-employment
- Support Equity Bank’s entrepreneurship training programme
- Organise a conference on entrepreneurship in cooperation with Care Norway in Oslo