Stories about women’s solutions can help design a world where everyone thrives

We’re so proud to partner again with the European Investment Bank for the Women’s Solutions Reporting Award. In this piece, Shiva Dustdar, Director and Head of the European Investment Bank Institute, explains why stories about women’s solutions can help design a world where everyone thrives.


The author, Caroline Criado Perez says, we live in a world designed by men, for men. I believe that if we want to change the world and make it really inclusive, we need to redesign it so that it is made for all people. Art, culture and media can show us the way. Journalists and filmmakers, in particular, have an eye to present the world as it is now and what it could be in the future. 

That’s why I am very proud that the European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting the Women’s Solutions Reporting Award with One World Media. We need to hear stories of women who are improving other women’s financial and economic inclusion, who are helping fight climate change, and increasing access to education and healthcare. We want to hear stories of how women are changing the world, in big ways and small. 

My parents left Iran in the 1960s in search of a better life, which meant I had access to the kind of opportunities and role models who inspired me that I may not have otherwise. It might be because of my background that even in my business career, I’ve always been attracted to innovation and creating growth.

In my current role at the EIB, I want to help people bring new ideas to life. For example, after setting up financing schemes for entrepreneurs, we discovered that many were not yet investment ready and needed additional support. This led to the creation of the Innovation Finance Advisory Division, which I had the privilege to set up and scale to become a key pillar of the Bank’s advisory services. We also advised entrepreneurs who would not naturally think of seeking our financing but were working on exciting solutions. 

What caught my attention was that very few, if any of our clients, were women entrepreneurs. This prompted us to actively look for them to tell them about what support we offer and the kind of financial instruments that exist. They cannot look for something they don’t know about.

Three years ago, we launched the SheInvest initiative to mobilise €1 billion in investments that help women get loans and run businesses across Africa. At the end of 2022, at the Finance in Common Summit, we extended our initiative to mobilise another €2 billion of gender lens investment in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

To help women get financial support, we designed an EIB Group Strategy and a Gender Action Plan. We are also part of the 2X Challenge and adopted its criteria that is setting global standards for empowering women through investment. 

Women still earn around 25% less than men. Nearly a billion women can’t get loans to start a business and they can’t open a bank account to save money. Advancing women’s equality in banking and the workplace could add as much as $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025. 

I hope that one day, when we live in a truly equal world, such initiatives won’t be needed anymore. This begins with seeing women’s stories in public media, like the kind we’re trying to highlight with the Women’s Solutions Reporting Award. This is an important step so women everywhere are reminded that where you come from doesn’t have to decide how far you go. 


Shiva Dustdar is the new Director and Head of the European Investment Bank Institute. 


Shiva Dustdar is the Director and Head of the European Investment Bank Institute and the first woman to lead this key pillar of the EIB Group’s community and citizen engagement. A Luxembourg national, Ms Dustdar has over 28 years of experience in the financial industry working for large private and public institutions in New York, London and Luxembourg. Since joining the EIB in 2003, she has worked in risk management, lending, investing and advising in innovative companies.

Before taking on her new position, she led the EIB’s Innovation Finance Advisory (IFA) Division, which she built and scaled up into a successful innovation financing advisory programme covering green, digital, space, gender-smart and health-related sectors.

Shiva Dustdar started her career in 1993 at JP Morgan Investment Banking in New York, working in mergers and acquisitions, project finance and emerging markets before joining Fitch Rating Agency in 1999 to set up its European High Yield rating business. She holds a BA (Magna cum Laude) in Economics from Columbia University and an Executive MBA from London Business School (LBS).

She is also a regular speaker on innovation and impact financing, gender-smart investing, digital and green financing. She is actively engaged in networks that promote sustainable and mission-oriented financing.