RENEW Strategies

The Men Who Care About Gender Equality

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Erin O'Connor
| March 2, 2021

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day to celebrate the achievements made by women, while also putting forth a call to action to accelerate women’s equality. This year, the IWD theme is Choose to Challenge (#ChooseToChallenge): Challenging the status quo, challenging how the world views women, challenging people and organizations to call out gender bias and inequality. We can all do our part and we can all choose to create a more inclusive world, and we can choose to celebrate women and their achievements. “From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge” (IWD).

At RENEW, we choose to actively challenge gender equality on a daily basis, by creating gender-balanced management teams, by supporting women in leadership roles, and by instilling the benefits of gender equality in our portfolio companies and through our training. While in years past we’ve highlighted all the women on our team for IWD, this year, we wanted to find the men who also care about this day and these ideals just as much as the women on our team. So with the theme in mind, we approached the men who are actively challenging the status quo, the ones who see and inherently understand the importance of gender equality. Here are some of the stories from the men on our team.

Scroll down or click through to the following team members:



Matthew Davis, Managing Partner & CEO - Ethiopia

Is there a woman in your life you look up to? If yes, tell us the story?
Yes. My wife. She's a trailblazer, fearless in the face of challenges, and she has become a powerful force in the investment world.

Is there a female leader you look up to? If yes, why?
I like how Bill and Melinda Gates have co-led the Gates Foundation. I think their partnership, respect and shared vision are a model for how couples who are trying to change the world can and should work together.

What opportunities and benefits do you see for companies in East Africa to create gender-balanced management teams? Sales teams? HR policies? Financial decisions?
Half the population is female. Half the market is female. Half the workforce is female. Is half the company's leadership female? If not - huge opportunity.



Justin Reesor, Director of Admin & Finance - Canada

Is there a woman in your life you look up to? If yes, tell us the story?
My grandmother. She embodies the spirit of being selfless and has dedicated her life to taking care of others: from simple acts such as remembering and celebrating meaningful dates to fostering children.

Is there a female leader you look up to? If yes, why?
Since hearing about Malala Yousafzai's story, I have always looked up to her and admired her courage and persistence. At such a young age, she has been able to make such meaningful change, in spite of the significant trauma she has been through.

What opportunities and benefits do you see for companies in East Africa to create gender-balanced management teams? Sales teams? HR policies? Financial decisions?
It's a well-documented fact that organizations with strong female representation at the senior management and board-level outperform their male counterparts. I believe SMEs in East Africa have a significant opportunity to scale and become world-class companies simply by focusing on execution and becoming gender-smart and even leapfrog western economies in terms of female representation and management participation.



Yoseph Getachew, Portfolio Manager - Ethiopia

Is there a woman in your life you look up to? If yes, tell us the story?
Abebech, my mother, for me is everything that you wish a human to be; well respected by her coworkers, friends and family because of the spirit and joy she creates in everything she does. She is a true role model for her children and the entire family.

Is there a female leader you look up to? If yes, why?
Taytu Betul(ጣይቱ ብጡል) the queen of Ethiopia and wife of emperor Menlik, who was not overshadowed by her husband and is behind some of the great things that took place in Ethiopia: from leading an army of her own and winning critical battles to establishing historical cities like Addis Ababa.

What opportunities and benefits do you see for companies in East Africa to create gender-balanced management teams? Sales teams? HR policies? Financial decisions?
As humans, what makes us powerful is our diversity and what we all bring to the table. Those who win the competition are those who recognize that women are at the core of it all and should be represented if one chooses to stand out from competition irrespective of the size of the company, SMEs included.



Lincoln Ford Linguyeneza, Legal Counsel - Rwanda

Is there a woman in your life you look up to? If yes, tell us the story?
Yes. I look up to my late paternal grandmother, Stella. She sacrificed her opportunity to receive an education and instead single handedly put her kids, siblings, and other close relatives through school in the late 50s when the African society frowned upon women getting a formal education.

Is there a female leader you look up to? If yes, why?
Mrs. Patience Mutesi Gatera, Rwanda Country Director; Trademark East Africa. She has blazed a path for women entrepreneurs in Rwanda. She has given several inspiring talks and interviews in the areas of finance and entrepreneurship.

What opportunities and benefits do you see for companies in East Africa to create gender-balanced management teams? Sales teams? HR policies? Financial decisions?
Uganda and Rwanda have taken significant strides towards creating gender-balanced systems which have helped maximize efficiency in fields of management, sales, HR and finance. In Rwanda, women make up 52% of the cabinet. Uganda leads Africa in countries that have a high number of women-owned enterprises as a percentage of total business owners. Hopefully, this will set a precedent for other countries to create gender-balanced management teams as a way of promoting financial inclusion.


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