BUTUAN CITY, Aug. 11 (PIA) - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is guaranteeing a four-year, eight million dollars women’s livelihood bond (WLB) that will provide access to credit, market linkages and affordable goods and services for an estimated 385,000 Southeast Asian women.
The bond which is structured by the Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) is expected to be listed on the Singapore Exchange this month and will be the first social sustainability bond, with a dual focus on social and financial returns, to be listed on a major stock exchange. USAID is providing a 50 percent guarantee of the loan portfolio’s principal to mitigate risk, attract investors and support development.
“USAID is pleased to support the WLB with this loan guarantee,” said Todd Sorenson, deputy mission director at USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia in Bangkok. “The bond will benefit women living in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, particularly Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines,” Sorenson added.
The WLB will provide capital to a group of microfinance institutions and social enterprises that will help low-income women transition from subsistence to sustainable livelihoods and build their resilience to socio-economic stresses. Long-term benefits, in addition to more successful women-owned businesses, include increased participation in the workforce, higher standards of living, and more education and health opportunities for women and children.
“This brings us one step closer to a day when our financial markets consider social and environmental impact on an equal footing with financial returns,” said IIX founder Durreen Shahnaz, noting that the WLB was supported by public, private and philanthropic institutions, including DBS Bank Ltd., ANZ Banking Group, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Sixty percent of the capital for this bond was provided by Asian investors, mostly private banking clients. IIX is planning to develop additional social sustainability bonds in the future.
Since 1999, USAID through the Development Credit Authority has arranged more than 350 million dollars in credit through 63 guarantees in 13 Asian nations. USAID’s loan guarantee for the WLB is part of its commitment to the development of the ASEAN region. The U.S. government partners with ASEAN to support economic integration, expand maritime cooperation, cultivate emerging leaders, promote opportunity for women, and address transnational challenges. (U.S. Embassy/PIA-Caraga)