Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), the pioneer in Impact Investing, marks a monumental achievement by successfully pricing the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ 6 (WLB6) at an unprecedented size for gender-based investment bonds of US$100 million. This achievement is expected to uplift over 880,000 women and girls in the Global South, making it the largest issuance in the acclaimed WLB Series.
WLB6 sets a new industry standard as the largest Orange and Sustainability labeled Bond in the market, doubling in size compared to its predecessor. Oversubscribed and with substantial investor interest amid the growing market demand for Orange Bonds, WLB6 stands out as a magnet for investors seeking financial and impactful returns. Orange bonds are currently the only asset class at the critical nexus of gender equity and climate action in emerging markets.
Part of the award-winning WLB Series, WLB6 offers a unique financial framework that balances risk, return, and impact. Since its 2017 inception, the WLB Series has been a beacon of progress, mobilizing a total of US$228 million, including WLB6, and dedicated to empowering up to 2 million women and girls in the Global South. WLB6 spans five countries and six sectors, with an aim to advance 15 distinct United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Prof. Durreen Shahnaz, CEO and Founder of IIX affirms, “The groundbreaking US$100 million WLB 6 is the incredible achievement of IIX and its partners across the continents, comprising over 200 professionals. These professionals came together, working day and night to break new ground, transforming the impact investing landscape. This milestone is a pivotal stride towards a transparent and inclusive future that significantly impacts and empowers women and girls in emerging markets. With each issuance, we’re not just changing the game; we’re rewriting the rules.”
WLB6 will utilize the capital raised by this issuance in six sectors – Agriculture, Water and Sanitation, Clean Energy, Affordable Housing, SME Lending, and Microfinance – promoting the growth of women-focused businesses, sustainable livelihoods, peace, prosperity, and the planet. The impact of this capital raise extends to India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Vietnam, with 100% of the US$100 million proceeds designed to advance SDG 5: Gender Equality and 25-30% designed to advance SDG 13: Climate Action as well.
WLB6, a sustainable debt security, offers investors an innovative financial mechanism for generating quantifiable social and environmental impact while also generating sustainable financial returns. APG Senior Credit Analyst and Sustainability Lead, Joshua Linder, said: “APG, on behalf of its pension fund clients, is proud to invest in the largest Orange Bond issuance to date. With the aim to generate sustainable returns while creating meaningful change in the lives of women and girls in the Global South, WLB6 resonates with our values and aligns with our long-term, responsible investing approach.”
The journey of WLB6 exemplifies the collaborative effort of ecosystem partners, uniting actors from the public and private sectors. Partners include the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australian DFAT), Shearman & Sterling, Clifford Chance, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Standard Chartered Bank, ANZ, Global Affairs Canada, Nuveen, APG, PayPal, Metlife, Uniting Financial Services (UFS), Pathfinder, Alvarium, Grieg Foundation and Impax Asset Management. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will provide a loan to an affiliate of the issuer of the WLB Bonds.
Nuveen applauds the attractive relative value and ongoing impact: “Having been part of the WLB series over the years, we are thrilled to continue participating in the series by investing in WLB6. IIX consistently delivers on driving positive change through innovative financial solutions that are attractive from an investment perspective. By hitting another milestone aligning with the Orange Movement™’s goals, we reinforce our commitment to this initiative and the transformative work of IIX,” said Nuveen’s Head of ESG/Impact – Global Fixed Income Stephen M. Liberatore, CFA.
WLB6’s success is crucial in shaping a sustainable and equitable future. As an Orange Bond, it represents the Orange Movement™’s dedication to catalyzing positive change and translating strategies into impactful action. The bond significantly contributes to the movement’s goals of mobilizing US$10 billion to empower 100 million women, girls, and gender minorities by 2030.
“DFC spearheaded the launch of the world’s first Orange Bond, WLB5, reinforcing our commitment to advancing the financing requirements of women in emerging markets. This announcement demonstrates our unwavering dedication to drive gender-inclusive financing, transparency, and diversity. As a signatory to the Orange pledge, DFC is proud of the Women’s Livelihood Bond series. It is an important initiative which bridges the financing gap and fosters global economic growth, especially for women and girls in emerging markets,” added DFC Chief Operating Officer Agnes Dasewicz.
WLB6 is designed to support the transformation and empowerment of underserved communities tangibly. As WLB6 leads the way, IIX remains committed to fostering an equitable and sustainable tomorrow, catalyzing more women-focused businesses, and championing initiatives at the intersection of gender and climate action in the Global South.
Photo courtesy of UN Women.