Kathryn Kaufman (Katie) leads the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) 2x Global Women’s Initiative. She talked with She Said/She Said Podcast about the importance of facilitating and encouraging private sector growth in emerging markets that are transitioning from aid recipient to stronger more stable contributors. But it’s Katie’s leadership of the agency’s new 2x women’s initiative and commitment to invest a $1billion in women where she is having a particularly big impact and changing mindsets about gender-based investing. She tells us that for for every dollar that OPIC invests, it facilitates the investment of $3 additional private sector dollars — money she said will provide access to capital, jobs, skills, products and services.
“When women earn a competitive income they spend 90 percent of it on their families; on their children’s education; and their aging parents’ healthcare. By comparison, men spend between 30-40 percent…..women are really driving their communities….If we want to tackle the greatest challenges that face communities — healthcare, education, gender-based violence — it just makes sense to invest in and empower women.” She also says there is no better tool for combating extremism, something she knows first-hand having worked in both national defense and diplomacy.
When asked about how she measures success she not only includes the impact of getting money in the hands of women, but also helping transaction officers better understand how to make decisions that take gender into consideration. Perhaps the most significant measure of success she says is that she works herself out of a job by helping OPIC create stronger, freer markets in areas where they don’t currently exist.
Katie’s passion for impact investing, and her understanding of the critical role women play in their communities is inspiring. She is having an impact and making a difference in ways both large and small!