Want a great return on your investment? Invest in women! I’ve written about:
- Investing in high-growth, women-led companies.
- Investing in publicly traded companies that are women friendly.
- Providing loans to women-owned companies via CNote and Kiva.
Add to that list Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB), the world’s first social sustainability bond to be listed on a stock exchange. The bond will support both high-impact and micro-finance institutions in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
WLB is a $8 million bond and is the first in a series of IIX Social Sustainability Bonds. It will provide multi-country and multi-sector financial and social returns and will impact the lives and livelihood of over 385,000 women across Southeast Asia.
The woman behind this innovative financial instrument is Durreen Shahnaz. From the dirt roads of Bangladesh to Wall Street, she has been paving the way for women. Shahnaz was the first Bangladeshi woman to work on Wall Street after graduating from Smith College and subsequently, she was also the first Bangladeshi woman to graduate from the Wharton Business School. She learned finance at Morgan Stanley then applied that knowledge when she worked at Grameen Bank, which works to improve access to finance in developing countries.
Because she wanted to revolutionize the capital markets to promote equal and sustainable growth worldwide, in 2009, Shahnaz launched IIX, or Impact Investment Exchange for Asia which became the home of Impact Exchange — the world’s first social stock exchange, and Impact Partners – Asia’s largest equity crowdfunding platform for impact investing. This required looking at the entire value chain of capital markets and addressing the demand and supply side of development finance. IIX’s work to date has unlocked over $75 million and impacted lives of over 10 million people all across Asia.