Danish pension scheme Paedagogernes Pension (PBU) has become the cornerstone investor in the official launch and first close of the Southeast Asia-focused SEAF Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund (SWEEF), according to an announcement.
PBU, the occupational pension scheme for early childhood teachers and youth educators, said it committed 100 million Danish krone ($16.2 million) in SWEEF, which has a women-centered, Southeast Asia-focused investment strategy primarily in Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
SEAF, a global impact investment fund manager, will manage SWEEF. SEAF said it was able to launch the fund with financial support 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).
The fund follows the success of the SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund (SWOF), which has invested in six women-led and/or women-owned businesses in Southeast Asia, including Ellana Cosmetics, a Philippine-based cosmetics startup.
Globally, SEAF has invested in over 400 companies in 29 countries.
SWEEF will invest in women entrepreneurs as well as businesses operating in sectors where women comprise a large portion of the labor force and those where the leadership demonstrates a strong commitment to gender equality and wider diversity
“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 PBU CEO Sune Schackenfeldt.
The $18-billion Danish pension fund is already a significant investor in microfinance and financial inclusion in a European context, where the main target group was also women.
“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,” Schackenfeldt added.
SEAF said SWEEF’s social focus investment is closely linked to the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
In August last year, SEAF made its second investment in the Philippines in CloudCfo, a technology-driven provider of outsourced accounting, bookkeeping, and financial services for startups.
SEAF invested in CloudCfo through its SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund. Its first investment in the Philippines was in Ellana Cosmetics in March.