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Heather Mae Kipnis


Heather is the Women’s Entrepreneurship Product Lead for IFC's Gender Secretariat. She advises project teams, clients, and partners on how to close gender gaps in access to finance, markets, and non-financial services -- with the goal of unlocking opportunities for increased profit, growth and innovation for both IFC clients and women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Additionally, she leads global product development, partnerships, and research for new advisory and investment solutions that support women entrepreneurs such as IFC’s Mini-MBA recently piloted and evaluated with IFC investment client, Bank of Palestine.

Heather has more than 15 years of experience in international development and financial services across Latin America & the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Of those years, ten have been dedicated to scaling up access to financial and business support services for women-owned SMEs.

Previously, Heather was a Global Gender Specialist with IFC’s Banking on Women (BOW) Program supporting the development of the BOW advisory solution which has been delivered to over 35 financial institution clients. Prior to IFC, Heather managed the programs and educational activities for a network of 75,000 women-led small to medium enterprises, and held positions in impact investing and private wealth management.

Heather has an MBA in Global Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelors of Science in Decision and Information Sciences from University of Florida. She serves as a Co-lead for the Aspen Institute’s ANDE Gender Inclusion Learning Lab, and on the Advisory Committee of the Global Impact Investing Networks (GIIN) gender-lens investing initiative.

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Economics & Finance

How PE and VC Are Closing the Gender Gap in Emerging Markets

Claudia Zeisberger & Heather M. Kipnis

If including women in senior private equity and venture capital leadership teams improves returns, why is the gender gap still so pervasive?