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SEA’s women-focused startup fund SWEEF receives US$16.2M

SEA: Danish occupational pension scheme Paedagogernes Pension (PBU) announced it has committed US$16.2 million into Southeast Asia-focused SEAF Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund (SWEEF).

According to an announcement, the pension scheme has become the cornerstone investor in the official launch and first close of the fund.

The fund also received financial backing from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the regional development arm of the UN, and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

SWEEF is a regional investment fund targeting women-led startups in Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It will also invest in sectors where women comprise a large portion of labor and in companies that “demonstrate a commitment to gender equality”.

The fund will be managed by a local team, the majority of which consist of women investment professionals.

PBU is a pension scheme for early childhood teachers and youth educators in Denmark. Online data reveals it has a total asset under management (AUM) of EUR 9 billion (US$ 10.9 billion).

“The investment into SWEEF has a clear link to our strategy for responsible investments, where we focus on empowering women and strengthening gender equality,” said Sune Schackenfeldt, CEO of PBU.

“Women in developing countries are the foundation of the family. With investments that have a special focus on women’s conditions, we strengthen their employment, earnings, and opportunities for social and economic advancement,” he added.

“We have learnt that meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs requires us to innovate and go beyond the usual lending modalities towards promoting mentorship, business development support services, and access to growth capital and that is exactly what our partnership with SEAF offers,” said ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Kaveh Zahedi.

US-based impact investment fund manager SEAF will manage the fund. The firm claims it has committed capital of US$1.2 billion with 40 funds in over 30 countries.

The launch of SWEEF follows SEAF’s Women Opportunity Fund. Launched in 2018, the latter has invested in six women-led startups in Southeast Asia, including Philippine-based cosmetics firm Ellana Cosmetics.


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