Impact Investment Exchange Closes First ‘Orange Bond’ at US$50m to Invest in Women in Asia and Africa

Pioneers Post

Singapore’s IIX closes the latest in its Women’s Livelihood Bonds series which invest in high-impact enterprises focused on advancing gender equality.

Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has raised US$50m for its fifth Women’s Livelihood Bond, set to improve the livelihoods of 300,000 women and girls in Asia and Africa.

The bond is the latest in the Women’s Livelihood Bonds (WLB) series, which has raised US$128m since the first bond was launched in 2017. To date, the WLBs have had an impact on 1m women across Asia and Africa, according to IIX. WLBs have a blended finance structure and invest in high-impact enterprises focused on advancing gender equity.

IIX’s CEO and founder Durreen Shahnaz (pictured) said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have aggravated gender disparity, and women in the Global South are left to bear the brunt of it. The WLB Series was created to eliminate these inequalities, and the WLB5 continues this mission while embracing shades of both orange and green.”

WLB5 is the first product to comply with the Orange Bonds Principles, developed this year with a coalition of impact investors led by IIX to boost gender-lens investing.

artboard-1 (1).png

Orange bonds, named after the colour of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality), must abide by a set of criteria and are intended to become an asset class of their own, like green bonds.

IIX estimates orange bonds could unlock $10bn in gender-lens investing by 2030, which would empower 100m women and girls to develop solutions to achieve gender equality and build a more inclusive and resilient world.

Stephen M Liberatore, head of ESG and impact – fixed income at Nuveen, the bond’s anchor investor, said: “The WLB5 will set the momentum for many Orange Bond transactions to come in the near future, making it a game changer for the sustainable financing market.”

A portion of WLB5’s investments will focus on empowering women to take action to tackle climate change and its effects. It will make loans in enterprises in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya and the Philippines, across microfinance, SME lending, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, water and sanitation, and affordable housing.