1. What is IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond (“WLB”) Series?
IIX’s Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series is a series of innovative debt securities that mobilizes 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 multiple countries and sectors with the common denominator of empowering women to build gender-equal businesses, supply chains and, eventually, capital markets.
In 2017, IIX developed and launched the first bond in the series, WLB 1, the world’s first gender-lens, impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange (Singapore Exchange (“SGX”)) and quoted on Bloomberg (ISIN: XS1476571614). WLB 2 and WLB 3 were subsequently issued in January 2020 and December 2020 (ISIN: XS2092263081 and XS2271198611). WLB 1 was repaid in full and officially redeemed on July 6, 2021.
To date, the WLB Series has mobilized over US$ 48 Million in private sector capital and has empowered ~815,000 underserved (low-income, rural, financially excluded) women to transition from subsistence to sustainable livelihoods, thereby advancing the United Nations’ SDG 5: Gender Equity (as well as 12 other SDG goals). Building on the success of previous issuances, IIX is developing the fourth bond in the series, the US$ 35-45 Million WLB4Climate which is scheduled to be out in the market end of 2021.
2. What is IIX’s role in the WLB Series and what is their track record?
IIX acts as the lead structurer and the portfolio manager for the WLB Series. As a woman-led organization with 70%+ of its staff being women, IIX aims to bring women to the front and center of the financial markets. This mission has translated into a 12-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 has had no defaults – all coupon payments have been made on time, and WLB 1, which matured in July 2021, has been repaid in full. Additionally, to date each of the bonds in the WLB Series has 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 over 450 impact assessments, IIX leveraged its expertise to develop IIX ValuesTM, a technology-powered, data-driven FinTech solution that gives underserved communities a voice and a value. To date, IIX’s work has spanned 53 countries, unlocked over US$ 215 Million of private sector capital to support over 215 impact enterprises, avoided over 1.4 Million metric tons of carbon, and impacted over 100 Million lives. Learn more at iixglobal.com.
3. What global recognitions have 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 (“GSG”) 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:
- Tokyo Financial Award 2021 for Best ESG Investment
- UN Women WeEmpower Award 2021 for Leadership Action and Commitment
- Overall Winner of the 2019 P4G State-of-the-Art Partnership of the Year award from P4G (the “Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030 Initiative”, which is supported by the Danish and the Dutch Governments) and Best-in-Class Winner for SDG#2 (Zero Hunger)
- The 2019 UN Global Climate Action award from the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (“UNFCCC”) for Financing Climate Friendly Investment
- Best Impact Bond Series award from the Global Wealth and Society Awards Indonesia 2019
4. Who were our previous investors?
To date, the WLB Series has attracted investors from across the world: Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This includes institutional investors (e.g. Nuveen, Pathfinder NZ), Microfinance Investment Vehicles (e.g. Symbiotics, Blue Orchard), family offices (e.g. Grace Harmony), among others.
5. 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 (“AI”) 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
6. What is the process for WLB Borrower selection? What is IIX’s core selection criteria?
IIX undertakes a structured, three-phase process to construct the borrower portfolio for each bond in the WLB Series: (i) Borrower Origination, (ii) Due Diligence and (iii) Portfolio Finalization, as shown below:
Figure 1: WLB Series – Portfolio Construction Approach
IIX’s key financial and social screening criteria for prospective WLB Series borrowers are as follows.
Figure 2: WLB Series – Portfolio Initial Screening Criteria
7. What reporting do WLB Series Investors receive post issuance?
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.
Over the bond lifetime, IIX regularly monitors and reports on the financial and impact performance of the borrower portfolio. Investors will begin receiving financial and impact reports covering each semi-annual period following the bond closing.
8. Does IIX verify the impact on women?
IIX takes a beneficiary-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.
9. How protected is your investment in the WLB Series?
In addition to the diversification benefits offered by a multi-country, multi-sector portfolio, WLB Series investors benefit from the following credit protection features:
- 50% pari-passu guarantee from the Development Credit Authority of the United States government (DCA), which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US government (Fitch: AAA; Moody’s: Aaa; S&P: AA+), 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