World’s First Impact Investing Instrument Listed on a Public Stock Exchange
January 31st, SINGAPORE – Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has successfully listed the US$30 million Women’s Livelihood Bond™ for Climate (WLB4Climate), the fourth bond in the award-winning Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series (WLB Series), on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The WLB Series is the world’s first impact investing instrument to be listed on a public stock exchange.
Advancing a total of 14 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the WLB4Climate will support an estimated 500,000 underserved women and girls in Asia to build resilient, sustainable, climate-friendly economies in the region. The listing of WLB4Climate makes it the fourth gender lens bond to be listed on a public stock exchange. The other three listed bonds include the first three issuances of the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series (WLB 1, WLB 3, and WLB 4).
Investors in the bond include leading investment managers in the US, Europe, and Australia including Nuveen, Lærdal,
IIX’s CEO and Founder, Professor Durreen Shahnaz, said, “The listing of WLB4Climate continues IIX’s journey of connecting the backstreets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world. The Global South cannot wait for rich nations to disburse financial aid to compensate for and mitigate the devastating damage caused by climate change. This is a death sentence to the very communities that fuel developing economies—especially women. When we first created the Women’s Livelihood Bond Series in 2017, we were creating a financial instrument that would change these systemic inequalities. With each new bond in the WLB Series, we’re building an entirely new asset class by and for the Global South that empowers developing countries with real results, rather than pledges and dialogues.”
With listing each bond on the Singapore Exchange to ensure that women are at the pinnacle of financial markets, the US$150 million WLB Series, a series of innovative debt securities, creates sustainable livelihoods for over 3 million women across developing countries. WLB4Climate is supporting women-focused enterprises in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines that are directly enabling women to create livelihoods that sustain themselves, their communities, and the planet, creating an ecosystem of climate-friendly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The effects of climate change are most acutely felt by women in the developing world, who are trapped in subsistence living due to high structural barriers to gaining self-sufficiency. With over 60% of all working women in South and Southeast Asia employed in agriculture, bringing together climate action and women’s livelihoods is particularly important in Asia where the majority of the labor force participates in sectors impacted by climate change like agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. With innovative financing to support transitioning women and girls to affordable, clean energy, the WLB4Climate will enable them to be a part of the solution to achieving a net zero economy.
Paul White, Head of Capital Markets at ANZ, said, “The WLB4Climate bond has expanded its reach and impact by linking a diverse group of borrowers in Asia and expanding into new sectors. The broad spectrum of investor demand underpins the growing momentum among investors looking for a positive impact investment while earning an attractive return on their capital. ANZ is proud to have worked with IIX on the WLB4Climate bond that improves the livelihoods of up to half a million women and girls in Asia, as well as the environment with the first sustainability bond from the WLB series.”
IIX launched the first of the WLB Series, the world’s first impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange, in 2017. Following the success of the WLB1, IIX issued the US$12 million WLB2 in January 2020 and US$27.7 million WLB3 in December 2020. Each issuance continues to grow the series, which is set to include new sectors and expand the geographical footprint of gender-lens investing with the introduction of new impact themes. With a solid risk-return-impact structure, the bonds continue to give steady financial and social returns even with the market dropping more than 1000 points in recent days. The steady performance of the Women’s Livelihood Bond series mirrors the strong financial and social performance of the microfinance institutions in 2008 when the rest of the financial markets experienced a complete meltdown.
Borrowers from the third issuance of the Bond series reported that water and sanitation facilities obtained through financing from the Bond have been critical to their pandemic resiliency, improving health outcomes with the added benefit of increasing borrowers’ incomes by allowing them to utilize their time for employment. From preparing women farmers to better respond to environmental shocks and maintain their yields through stresses caused by climate change-related extreme weather events to financing cleaner electronic transport and solar rooftop panels, WLB4Climate is expected to impact between 400,000 to 500,000 underserved women and girls across Asia.