The Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has successfully closed its US$27.7 million Women’s Livelihood BondTM 3 (WLB3), the third bond in the award-winning Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series. Advancing 13 Sustainable Development Goals, the WLB3 complies with the International Capital Markets Association Social Bond Principles and will support 180,000 underserved women and women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region to respond, recover from, and to build resilience in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the second in the Women’s Livelihood BondTM series that the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have supported, with financial backing from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. ESCAP and UNCDF are collaborating in this initiative alongside the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Shearman & Sterling, Latham & Watkins, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Clifford Chance, ANZ as the lead placement agent, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank and Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G).
IIX’s CEO and Founder, Professor Durreen Shahnaz, said, “At a time when COVID-19 caused governments, investors, and businesses to turn inward and leave behind millions of underserved women, we took a stand to do what is right. We closed a deal of immense proportions during a pandemic, and taught the world’s leading institutions how to create a new financial product that works for the 99%. Our astounding success is due to the fact that we dare to do what no one else is doing by valuing and making women a part of the global financial system. But we’re not stopping there. With each innovative financial instrument, we’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of financial markets so that we create truly systemic change that will outlast the pandemic.”
The WLB3 is part of the US$150 million Women Livelihood Bond Series, which are innovative debt securities that create sustainable livelihoods for over three million women and women entrepreneurs across developing countries. This bond series is supporting women-focused enterprises that are directly assisting women entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The WLB3 follows on the heels of the successful close of the US$12 million bond issuance in series 2 in January 2020, demonstrating that innovative gender lens products can be accelerated even during a global downturn by addressing key elements of risk, return, and impact for investors.
“ESCAP is supporting women entrepreneurs to access affordable and well-regulated financial services at this critical time. Investing in businesses run by women not only helps with the recovery of the business sector, but also the recovery of families on which women’s income is predominantly spent. Building partnerships and coalitions between the public and private sector is a central part of our support and we are proud to partner with IIX, UNCDF and the many supporters of this initiative to accelerate access to financing for women entrepreneurs,” said ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Kaveh Zahedi.
“It has been a challenging year for many people and businesses, particularly women-led or owned small enterprises. Instruments like the Women’s Livelihood Bond offer a pathway to support women entrepreneurs as they face new challenges and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. We are proud to partner with IIX and ESCAP through this initiative to support women’s entrepreneurship in the region. UNCDF is committed working with partners and supporting innovative financing models that advance financial inclusion and women’s entrepreneurship. It is through these efforts that we can reach the vision set out in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UNCDF Deputy Executive Secretary Xavier Michon.
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About ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme
ESCAP supports IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond through its regional programme initiative titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ which is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. Support to IIX is implemented in partnership with UNCDF. The Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship programme aims to support the growth of women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region through addressing challenges faced at three levels: enabling policy environment, access to finance and use of ICT for entrepreneurship.