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IIX, with support of DBS, to list S$11 million Women’s Livelihood Bond on SGX

SINGAPORE – In a global first, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), with the support of DBS Bank, is listing on the Singapore Exchange a US$8 million (S$11 million) Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB) that seeks to improve the lives of more than 385,000 women in Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

IIX, with support of DBS, to list S$11 million Women’s Livelihood Bond on SGX

IIX, a Singapore-based impact enterprise that bridges the gap between finance and development, said the proceeds from the bond are lent to microfinance institutions and social enterprises whose activities benefit women. Photo: IIX

SINGAPORE – In a global first, Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), with the support of DBS Bank, is listing on the Singapore Exchange a US$8 million (S$11 million) Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB) that seeks to improve the lives of more than 385,000 women in Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The four-year WLB is the world’s first social sustainability bond to be listed on a stock exchange, DBS said on Thursday (July 6). With a coupon rate of 5.65 per cent per annum, it received over 60 per cent of its investment capital from Asian investors, with the majority being high net worth customers of DBS.

IIX, a Singapore-based impact enterprise that bridges the gap between finance and development, said the proceeds from the bond are lent to microfinance institutions and social enterprises whose activities benefit women.

Mr Clifford Lee, DBS Group’s Head of Fixed Income, said: “This is a good example of how the capital markets can be mobilised to support a worthwhile cause for the betterment of life for the less fortunate, and we are honoured to have been involved in the structuring and marketing of this debut transaction for IIX.”

The WLB includes a number of credit protection features, including US$500,000 of first-loss capital provided by IIX as well as a 50 per cent guarantee of the principal amount of the underlying loan portfolio provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), DBS said.

In addition to DBS, the WLB is supported by a diverse range of stakeholders from the public, private, and philanthropic sectors such as Shearman & Sterling, Hogan Lovells, the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, the Clinton Global Initiative, ANZ Banking Group, the Japan Research Institute, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The closing of the WLB is a landmark achievement for the impact investment market, demonstrating that impact investment products can achieve scale, transparency and liquidity and appeal to a wide range of investors,” said IIX founder Durreen Shahnaz.

“The infrastructure for social capital markets is now taking off. This transaction brings us one step closer to a day when our financial markets consider social and environmental impact on an equal footing with financial returns,” she said.

DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest lender, played an active role in bringing the WLB to fruition, in line with its commitment to promoting sustainable development in Asia.

Ms Leona Tan, head of DBS Foundation and a member of DBS Sustainability Council, said: “As the former Development Bank of Singapore, DBS’ core belief is that business should touch real people, real businesses, real lives. We are a big believer of sustainable development, and are a supporter of the UN Sustainability Goals which seek to create decent work and economic growth, among other things.”

“The WLB, and other similar instruments, will contribute towards these goals by providing social enterprises with the needed capital to build and scale their businesses, thereby creating jobs and strengthening livelihoods here in Asia,” she added.

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