Singapore-based impact investing organisation Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) on Wednesday announced that it has closed the $12-million Women’s Livelihood Bond 2 (WLB2), aiming to create sustainable livelihoods for over 250,000 underserved women in the Asia Pacific region.
The WLB2 will become the second multi-country gender bond in the Asia Pacific to be listed on the Singapore Exchange, following the footsteps of the $8 million Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB1) that was issued and listed on the same bourse in 2017, according to a statement.
The predecessor, which served roughly 385,000 women in Southeast Asia, was the world’s first impact investing instrument, and the first financial instrument focused on women and listed on a stock exchange. The four-year bond is paying a coupon of 5.65 per cent to investors, per a previous company statement.
Gender bonds, which are subject to the same financial and capital market regulation as traditional bonds, generate a fixed-income financial return for institutional investors and private banking clients while seeking to bridge existing gaps in terms of female access to the labour market, leadership positions, and financing.
The WLB2 is the second bond in the Women’s Livelihood Bond Series (WLB Series), which plans to unlock an aggregate of over $150 million.
IIX will launch a series of bonds across new sectors and markets in the coming years. In 2020, the company will launch WLB3, expanding to more countries and new sectors, according to the statement.
The WLB Series are essentially debt securities targeting to create sustainable livelihoods for over two million women across Asia through innovative finance. It is the first listed gender lens bond for several countries in Asia, including Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.
“Starting with the Asia Pacific, we are building an entire ecosystem for gender lens investing by bringing together governments, businesses, multilateral and philanthropic organizations, and most importantly, investors, for women’s empowerment,” said IIX’s CEO and Founder, Durreen Shahnaz.
The latest series gained new support from The Rockefeller Foundation, The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Standard Chartered Bank, Latham & Watkins, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and UN Women.
Its existing partners include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), DBS Bank, ANZ, Shearman & Sterling, Hogan Lovells, and more.
Investors in the bonds include US institutional investor Nuveen, European institutional investor Blue Orchard, and others from across Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Private investors in the WLB Series will benefit from the first loss capital provided by The Rockefeller Foundation and a 50 per cent loan portfolio guarantee provided by USAID.