What is IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series?

IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond™ (WLB™) Series is a series of innovative debt securities that mobilize private capital to invest in a portfolio of high-impact enterprises that empower underserved women through sustainable livelihoods. Investors benefit from a diversified portfolio spanning a diverse range of countries and sectors with the common denominator of empowering women to build gender-equal businesses, supply chains, and, capital markets.

In 2017, IIX developed and launched the first bond in the Series, the US$8.5 million WLB1, the world’s first gender-lens, impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange, Singapore Exchange (SGX). WLB1 has been repaid in full and officially redeemed in July, 2021. The US$12 million WLB2 and US$27.7 million WLB3 were subsequently issued in January 2020 and December 2020. The WLB2 has also been repaid in full and officially redeemed in January 2024. The US$30 million WLB4Climate™ was issued in December 2021 and featured an additional, dedicated climate lens for a portion of the portfolio.

Building on the success of this, IIX issued fifth bond in the WLB™ Series and the world’s first Orange Bond the US$50 million WLB5 in December 2022. Recently, IIX largest issuance to date, the US$100 million WLB6 was oversubscribed and issued in December 2023.

To date, the WLB™ Series has mobilized over US$228 million in private sector capital and is empowering over 2,600,000 underserved (low-income, rural, financially excluded) women to transition to sustainable livelihoods, thereby advancing the United Nations’ SDG5: Gender Equity as well as 13 other SDGs.

What is IIX’s role in the WLB™ Series?

IIX acts as the lead structurer and portfolio manager for the WLB™ Series. IIX aims to bring women to the front and centre of the financial markets and leads by example with being female-founded, 40% of the investment committee being female, approximately 66% female staff working on the core functions of the WLB™ Series, and approximately 90% people of colour working on the core functions of the WLB™ Series.

This mission has translated into a 15-year track record of gender-lens investing and developing innovative programs, products and platforms to empower women, such as the WLB™ Series. To date, the WLB™ Series boasts zero defaults and punctual coupon payments. Notably, the WLB1 and WLB2 bonds, which matured in July 2021 and January 2024 respectively, were fully repaid. Additionally, each bond in the WLB™ Series has only met or exceeded its impact targets.

Over the past decade, IIX has built the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing (Impact Partners), operated award-winning enterprise technical assistance programs such as IIX ACTS, and established an Impact Institute for training and education. The basis of all this work – connecting the financial markets with impact – is IIX’s proprietary Impact Assessment, which is now widely used across Asia. With a decade of experience in conducting impact assessments across emerging markets, IIX leveraged its expertise to develop IIX Values™, a technology-powered, data-driven FinTech solution that gives underserved communities a voice and a value. To date, IIX’s work has spanned 60 countries, unlocked over US$500 million of private sector capital to directly and impact 160 million lives, and avoid over 1.9 million metric tons of carbon. Learn more at iixglobal.com.

What global recognitions has IIX and the WLB™ Series received?

IIX has received numerous awards including the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the ‘Nobel Prize for Business’, and the Global Steering Group Market Builder of the Year Award for its work to build the impact investing ecosystem with a focus on women empowerment and climate action.

The WLB™ Series has received the following awards in recognition of its contribution to the global sustainable development agenda and the innovative finance landscape:

Who are previous investors in the WLB™ Series?

To date, the WLB™ Series has attracted investors from across Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

To date, the WLB™ Series has attracted investors from across Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

This has included institutional investors, corporates, microfinance investment vehicles, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals.

Previous investors have included, among others: Nuveen, APG, MetLife, Paypal, Pathfinder, Symbiotics, BlueOrchard, Grace Harmony, iGravity, Laerdal Invest AS, Kavli Foundation, Ceniarth, Impax Asset Management,  Uniting Financial Services (UFS) and Grieg Foundation.

Who can invest in the WLB™ Series?

Investors must legally satisfy the Accredited Investor criteria (or equivalent) in their jurisdiction of residence. An accredited investor is a person or business entity who is allowed to participate in private investments because they meet certain income or net worth minimums. Accredited investors include not only financially sophisticated individuals but also banks, insurance companies, brokerages, and other companies.

U.S investors must also meet both Qualified Institutional Buyer (QIB) and Qualified Purchaser (QP) criteria as defined in U.S. securities regulations.

The minimum investment size is US$ 250,000.

To find out more about participating in the WLB™ Series, please reach out to us at wlbteam@iixglobal.com

Does IIX verify the impact on women?

IIX takes a end receiver of capital-centric approach across all of our work, in line with our mandate to empower women and bring them to the front and center of finance. In addition to semi-annual impact reports which rely on data gathered from the portfolio companies, IIX conducts an annual impact verification to gather data directly from a randomly selected sample size of women impacted by the WLB™ proceeds. IIX uses our proprietary digitized platform called IIX Values™ to conduct these impact verifications. IIX Values™ scales and democratizes the impact assessment process, enabling enterprises to better understand and measure their social and environmental impact with a standardized report. IIX Values™ has enabled IIX to continue to provide WLB™ investors with transparent, verified impact reports inspite of the current travel bans across Asia during this COVID-19 outbreak.

What reporting do WLB™ Series investors receive post issuance?

Over the bond tenor, IIX regularly monitors and reports on the financial and impact performance of the borrower portfolio. Investors will receive financial and impact reports semi-annually. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the borrowers’ financial and social performance throughout the bond’s lifetime ensures continuous risk mitigation, transparency of the impact on women beneficiaries, and accountability to bondholders.

How protected is your investment in the WLB™ Series?

In addition to the diversification benefits offered by a multi-country, multi-sector portfolio, the WLB™ Series investors benefit from the following credit protection features:

  • A pari-passu guarantee from the United States International Development Finance Corporation (U.S. DFC) and/or the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) covering any principal losses on the loan portfolio.
  • A subordinated debt layer provided by IIX’s Women’s Catalyst Fund.
  • Debt Service Reserve Account (DSRA) covering up to 6 months of interest payments from the largest loan in the portfolio.

What is the process for WLB™ borrower selection? What is IIX’s core selection criteria?

IIX constructs the loan portfolio for each bond in the WLB™ Series using a formal process that integrates impact considerations at every stage: