Pakistan Unveils first 'Gender Bond' for Flood-Affected Women

Pakistan Unveils first 'Gender Bond' for Flood-Affected Women

By: WE Staff | Friday, 1 December 2023

In a historic move, Pakistan became the first South Asian government to issue a 'gender bond' to generate Rs2.5 billion ($8.7 million) to provide microloans for about 30,000 women, particularly those affected by the devastating floods of 2022.

The Kashf Foundation, a non-profit organization in Pakistan, is leading the pioneering endeavor in collaboration with the for-profit credit enhancement facility InfraZamin Pakistan, which is supported by InfraCo. Asia Investments and Karandaaz Pakistan. The bond offering on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is an important step for financial inclusion and women's empowerment in the country.

"The idea behind this bond," says Shahzad Iqbal, CFO at Kashf Foundation, "is to give loans to those women who were affected by the floods last year so that they can build resilience and protect themselves in the future."

The Rs2.5 billion produced by the bond on the country's stock exchange would be used to provide loans to women impacted by the 2022 floods. The bond's three-year duration is dedicated only to supporting women, earning it the label 'gender bond.'

Maheen Rahman, CEO of InfraZamin Pakistan, emphasized the bond's focus on financial inclusion and restoration efforts, saying, "By creating such a structure, we have effectively targeted women, and as a result, we have met the requirements for this to be a gender bond."

Arif Habib Limited serves as financial adviser and arranger for the bond offering, which adheres to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) guidelines. The bond will be listed on the PSX's over-the-counter market, and trading is expected to commence within the next several months.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, interim Finance Minister, praised the project for being a "groundbreaking" tool for closing the gender gap and empowering women, emphasizing its potential to produce positive social change and development inside Pakistan. SECP Chairman Akif Saeed concurred, highlighting microloans' social impact on women and their families.