Women’s Livelihood Bond launching in 2016

Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) announced a Women’s Livelihood Bond, due to be launched in early 2016, as part of its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Women’s Livelihood Bond is the first of IIX’s Sustainability Bonds set to raise S$20 million in capital for a pool of underlying issuers. These issuers are social enterprises and microfinance institutions (MFIs) focused on empowering women.

The bonds are meant to enable high-impact social enterprises and MFIs to scale their operations and magnify their impact on women across Asia. This is achieved by providing them with increased access to skills, capital, market linkages and natural resources.

The bond is designed to empower over half a million women and their families in the most vulnerable communities in Asia, to shift from subsistence living towards sustainable and resilient livelihoods, Durreen Shahnaz, founder of IIX and Shujog has explained.

IIX is currently identifying potential borrowers with proven track record of positive impact on women’s lives, clear intention to scale, capital requirements, and viable bond-repayment avenues. The bond will pool together a group of issuers and diversify the risk-return structure of the bond, in effect ensuring repayment of the bond and the social impact deliverables.

Concurrently, IIX’s sister company Shujog, will also be applying its tailored, bottom-up approach in measuring impact to ensure that demonstrable social outcomes are achieved.

The programme is supported by key partners, such as The Rockefeller Foundation, Japan Research Institute, Center for High Impact Philanthropy of the University of Pennsylvania, and Shearman and Sterling LLP, with the Women’s Livelihood Bond en route to being listed on the Impact Exchange.

Shujog and the Rockefeller Foundation will also develop a blueprint paper of the Women’s Livelihood Bond, to capture the entire mechanism of the bond, from design to issuance on the Impact Exchange.

It is hoped that by sharing the blueprint openly, IIX can enable uptake and replication of their financial instrument and accelerate the uptake of private capital for developmental purposes in the social enterprise and microfinance sphere.

IIX currently offers three investment platforms: Impact Accelerator, Impact Partners and Impact Exchange. Impact Accelerator provides seed-stage social ventures with mentorship and private capital. Impact Partners connects accredited impact investors to selected growth-stage SEs raising investment capital.

Impact Exchange function as a regulated social stock exchange operated by the Stock Exchange of Mauritius in collaboration with IIX. The exchange lists and trades securities issued by mature social ventures. To date, IIX claims to have facilitated more than S$11 million of investment, with nearly $19.5 million in ‘social value’ generated.