AUGUST 28, 2019 – WASHINGTON DC & SINGAPORE– Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) – a global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world through innovative finance and support for high-impact enterprises – has won the 2019 P4G State-of-the-Art Partnerships Award for advancing progress in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture through its pioneering Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series (WLB Series).

The WLB Series are innovative financial instruments that bring together multi-sector ecosystem actors to mobilize large-scale private investment to drive women’s economic empowerment across multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – including SDG 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work), 13 (Climate Action), and 17 (Partnerships). The Award was announced in Washington DC today by P4G, the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 Initiative, which recognizes the world’s most innovative and successful public-private partnerships driving green growth and climate action.

The WLB Series brings together civil society partners including Rockefeller Foundation, UN Women, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Japan Research Institute; government agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); law firms such as Shearman & Sterling, Hogan Lovells, Latham and Watkins, and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; and banking partners such as DBS Bank (Southeast Asia’s largest bank) and ANZ.

P4G Global Director, Ian de Cruz, commented: “We are thrilled to recognize IIX’s Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series for its innovative use of public-private collaboration to build a more sustainable and inclusive future across Asia. We are particularly interested in how the WLB Series effectively advances SDG2 by empowering underserved women with access to credit for agricultural inputs, market linkages and goods and services, enabling them to improve agricultural productivity, nutrition and overall community resilience. Partnerships are crucial to delivering on the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement, and we need more visionary initiatives such as this one which bring together actors from the private, public, and civil society sectors to work together in novel ways and unlock new resources for sustainable development.”

In 2017 IIX launched the first of the WLB Series, the Women’s Livelihood BondTM 1 (WLB1)—which is the world’s first impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange and quoted on Bloomberg, reporting both social and financial returns. The WLB1 was oversubscribed by investors, and raised US$8M in private capital to empower 385,000 underserved women across Southeast Asia to transition from subsistence to sustainable livelihoods. With the success of the WLB1, IIX is launching the second Women’s Livelihood BondTM (WLB2) in September 2019. Demonstrating the scalability and replicability of the WLB Series, the WLB2 will be a US$100M debt security issued over 3-4 tranches that benefits at least 1 million women across Asia. The WLB2 will expand to include more countries than those in the WLB1 such as India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and new sectors such as renewable energy.

IIX CEO and Founder, Durreen Shahnaz, said: “The success of the Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series is a demonstration of IIX’s deep commitment to women’s empowerment. The evidence is clear that gender equality is a powerful driver of progress toward the SDGs, as well as of financial returns, yet women continue to be excluded from global markets due to entrenched structural barriers that fail to recognize their value. Without access to finance, markets, and income-generating assets, women remain trapped in subsistence livelihoods and exposed to economic shocks. It takes innovation in how we design, measure and create partnerships around innovative financial products to value the role that women play in sustainable development, and we couldn’t be happier to lead that movement with the WLB Series.”

Across developing countries, sustainable agriculture and food security are closely tied to women’s empowerment. Among working women in the least developed countries, 79 percent report agriculture as their primary source of income. Despite this strong contribution to local economies, women continue to have less access to resources and financial services than men. Women account for fewer than 20 percent of all landholders in developing countries, and only 37 percent of these women landholders have bank accounts. Globally, women are 11% less likely to have access to formal financial services. Even those who do face greater difficulty than men in accessing credit, trapping them in subsistence livelihoods or unstable wage labor.

A panel of expert judges from P4G selected winners based on the five main criteria: eligibility, impact, innovation, scale and implementation viability. To qualify, a partnership must include at least one organization each from the private, public and civil society sectors and have achieved measurable impact in its target SDG sector.