Press release: IIX and UN Women partner to empower millions of women through innovative finance


Singapore and New York, 10 July 2019 — UN Women—the UN organization dedicated to gender equality—has partnered with Impact Investment Exchange (IIX)—a global organization dedicated to changing financial systems and creating innovate solutions to women’s empowerment—to mobilize large-scale capital to empower underserved women through innovative finance. With the shared goals to close the funding gap for advancing gender equality and the dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, IIX and UN Women will collaborate on a series of activities including the development of financial instruments that leverage public funding to unlock greater private capital for women; the engagement of new actors to increase investments that are sensitive to gender issues; and a commitment to measure social and economic outcomes for women beneficiaries. The partnership, announced at a signing ceremony in New York today, aims to unlock billions in capital for millions of women.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “We are delighted to be working with IIX, who bring a decade of experience in impact investing and innovative finance to the issue of financial inclusion for women. At this time, as the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action approaches, as well as the final decade of the 2030 Agenda, we need more innovative approaches and financial instruments such as the ones pioneered by IIX so that we can accelerate financing for underserved women around the world. This is a crucial entry point for progress across all 17 SDGs because when women have money in their pockets they make decisions that benefit entire communities.”

IIX CEO and Founder, Durreen Shahnaz, said: “This is a significant moment for IIX as we embark on our next decade of work to innovate new solutions for women’s empowerment. Having pioneered the first of its kind Women’s Livelihood Bond 1 (WLB1), a USD 8 million debt security impacting 385,000 women in Southeast Asia and reporting social and financial returns, IIX is preparing to launch the Women’s Livelihood Bond 2 (WLB2)—which unlocks USD 100 million in private capital to benefit 1 million women across Asia. Through new innovations in the WLB2, we are demonstrating how innovative financial instruments can be replicated and scaled across geographies, sectors, and issues to eventually reach billions of women. I can think of no better partner than UN Women to help us realize the potential of innovative finance for SDG5.”

The SDG financing gap is estimated at USD 2.5 trillion a year in developing countries. The world spends USD 200 billion per year on aid yet only 4 per cent of overseas development aid targets women.

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About IIX

IIX is a global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world by changing financial systems and innovating solutions for women empowerment, climate action, and community resilience. Over the past decade, we have built the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing (Impact Partners), created innovative financial products such as the Women's Livelihood Bond, operated award-winning enterprise technical assistance programs such as IIX ACTS, and established an Impact Institute for training and education. To date, our work has spanned 46 countries, unlocked US$126+ million of private sector capital to support 150+ enterprises, avoided over a million tons of carbon and impacted over 77 million direct and household lives. The foundation of IIX's work is its proprietary Impact Assessment which effectively measures the social and environmental impact of the investment and gives value to the voices of the underserved. IIX has received numerous awards for its work including the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the ‘Nobel Prize for Business.’

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on four strategic priorities:

UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality, and in all deliberations and agreements linked to the 2030 Agenda. The entity works to position gender equality as fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a more inclusive world.