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New US$12m women's livelihood bonds to list on SGX

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Investors in IIX's second Women’s Livelihood Bond include US institutional investor Nuveen, European institutional investor Blue Orchard, and others from across Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

SINGAPORE-BASED capital firm Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) on Wednesday closed its second Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB).

The US$12 million bonds will have a four-year tenor and carry a coupon of 4 per cent per annum, IIX told The Business Times.

This is IIX's second issuance under its more than US$150 million WLB series, which provides financing to under-served women in the Asia-Pacific. The third issuance will be launched later this year, and IIX will expand it to include more countries and new sectors.

The new bonds will be listed on the Singapore Exchange. DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) were the placement agents.

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Investors in the latest bonds include US institutional investor Nuveen, European institutional investor Blue Orchard, and others from across Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The US$12 million issuance is expected to create sustainable livelihoods for 250,000 vulnerable women in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, by supporting impact enterprises that are innovating solutions for women's empowerment, IIX said.

Private investors in the WLB series will benefit from first-loss capital provided by The Rockefeller Foundation and a 50 per cent loan portfolio guarantee provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has also provided a catalytic upfront grant required to develop the latest bond.

Meanwhile, additional funding to scale up the WLB series will be provided by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), with financial support from the Canadian government.

New supporters in the WLB series comprise The Rockefeller Foundation, ESCAP, UNCDF, Standard Chartered Bank, Latham & Watkins, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and UN Women.

They join the existing supporters, which include USAID, Australia's DFAT, DBS Bank, ANZ, Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells.

In 2017, IIX launched its maiden four-year US$8.5 million WLB bond, with a coupon rate of 5.65 per cent per annum.

The Rockefeller Foundation's managing director of innovative finance, Lorenzo Bernasconi, said: "The WLB series is a prime example of catalytic capital at work - where risk-tolerant, impact-prioritising funding is leveraged to unlock private sector capital."

"In this case, Rockefeller's investment is expected to be amplified at least 10 times by private investors, bringing critical funding to women-focused enterprises in South-east Asia."