Over 40 gender and finance experts came together with community leaders in Ho Chi Minh City for a two-day workshop on gender lens investing. This event provided an opportunity to frame, identify and debate a shared vision for how to include gender in investment decisions. As investments across Southeast Asia grow, so do the conversations about the intersection of gender and finance. Gender lens investing refers to this intersection and provides a framework for which to value gender in the systems of finance. Across the globe, gender lens investing continues to gain momentum as a tool for improving investment and gender equality.In Vietnam, women enjoy a long tradition in business and contribute appreciably to the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. Women-owned businesses account for an estimated 21% of the 181,000 SMEs in the formal economy. But women face significant challenges in establishing and growing their enterprises, and access to capital is a major barrier.Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, is supporting investors to incorporate gender data and analytics into their financial analysis to help them make better investment decisions that can open up more access to capital for women-owned and women-led SMEs.“In many ways, Asia is ahead of the globe in making investment decisions with greater gender focus. The growth of gender lens investing across Southeast Asia now demands more industry champions, equipped with technical skills in both gender and finance, to grow a community of practice,” said Joy Anderson, president and co-founder of the Criterion Institute. One of the leading think tanks on gender lens investing, the Criterion Institute partners with Investing in Women to organize this event in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia. Dr. Anderson noted, “Over the last two days, we have strengthened a shared understanding of how gender shapes perceptions of market value in investment opportunities and we have built a small, but vital, community of translators to assist others in navigating and building the field of gender lens investing. The Criterion Institute is excited to assist in solidifying a community of field-builders here in Vietnam.”James Soukamneuth, Impact Investing Partnership Director of Investing in Women, expressed that “Gender lens investing has a strong role to play for impact investing to reach its full potential. Investing in Women is committed to growing the field in Southeast Asia, with common standards and a core set of principles, mitigating barriers to entry. We believe that gender lens investing can accelerate sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Vietnam.”Ho Chi Minh City is the second Southeast Asian city to host a gender lens investing field-building workshop with the first being held in Jakarta in February 2018. A final workshop is planned for Manila, Philippines in June 2018.More information on Investing in WomenInvesting in Women is an Australian Government initiative to catalyze inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in South East Asia. The program’s goals are to improve women’s participation in the workforce and as business leaders; enhance women’s voice in decision making and leadership; and influence the private and public sectors to recognize and promote the value of gender equality. Investing in Women partners with impact investors to strengthen access to finance for women-owned and led SMEs particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and to build a business case for a more inclusive investing environment globally.