SINGAPORE AND CANBERRA [September 15, 2021] – Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) announced today the launch of three blended finance solutions to boost resilience and drive investment to small and medium-sized businesses and underserved women in the Asia-Pacific. With AUD2.75 million in funding from the Australian Government, IIX will unlock an additional AUD18 million through the catalytic use of the funding.

The two-year partnership will support three blended finance solutions. The first blended finance solution will deliver financing Relief for women entrepreneurs through the IIX Emergency Financing Facility (IEFF), so they can weather the ongoing pandemic and endure future external shocks. The second solution will provide bespoke technical support and digital tools to women-focused businesses to Recover and access catalytic capital through IIX’s crowdfunding platform Impact Partners. The third solution is to ensure ongoing access to capital to build long-term business Resilience through the Women’s Catalyst Fund.

IIX CEO and Founder, Professor Durreen Shahnaz, said: “As countries continue to grapple with the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades, businesses and women in the Asia Pacific need urgent and innovative interventions to survive, adapt, and pivot in the new normal. IIX is proud to partner with DFAT to show the world how women can be drivers of growth in the post-COVID era. Due to the catalytic design of the instruments, we hope to unlock AUD18 million in private sector capital in two years, with the potential to benefit 8 million women by 2030.”

Julie-Ann Guivarra, Australia’s Ambassador for Gender Equality said: “Australia is committed to inclusive economic recovery and innovative partnerships to address immediate and long-term solutions to gender inequality. We are proud to support this partnership, which will harness IIX’s private sector financial expertise to support women and underserved communities across the Indo-Pacific.”

This partnership is a continuation of over 5 years of collaboration between IIX and DFAT. In 2017, DFAT provided support for the first and second issuances of IIX’s award-winning USD150 million Women’s Livelihood Bond Series, which is the world’s first impact and gender lens investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange.

The blended finance solutions are designed to catalyze private investment to address systemic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Each solution is designed to create a multiplier effect to unlock at least three times the private sector capital for sustainable development.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on women and women-focused small and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs), across formal and informal sectors. The unprecedented social and economic changes due to the pandemic have increased the burden on women, who have taken on additional caring responsibilities, are experiencing increased unemployment rates, or are struggling to maintain their businesses, and are overlooked by COVID-response policies that may even exacerbate domestic and family violence. The region alone has over 50 million women entrepreneurs, mostly in the micro, small and medium-range that provide employment to over 100 million people. As a result of the pandemic, 35% of WSMEs may never reopen in Indonesia, while 50% across South and Southeast Asia do not have access to capital for business operations and refinancing.