Fresh impetus on women empowerment

THE efforts made by the government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan to champion women empowerment got fresh impetus following the listing of the first ever Sub-Saharan Africa social gender bond (NMB Jasiri bond) on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE).

The gender-focused bond flag makes it easier for investors to identify investment opportunities that contribute to gender equality objectives.

Addressing African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), a network of African women meeting in Zanzibar, in December last year, President Samia said Tanzania has done a commendable job of increasing women’s participation in the country’s economy and leadership.

Therefore, the listing of the Jasiri Bond on the LuxSE marks yet another important milestone reached in the country’s financial sector, thanks to government efforts in creating enabling environment in making the banking industry one of the major contributors to building inclusive economic growth.

As part of its International Women’s Day celebrations, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange welcomed the first gender bond from Sub-Saharan Africa issued by NMB Bank Plc in Tanzania.

Speaking at the event on behalf of the NMB Chief Executive Officer Ms Ruth Zaipuna, the NMB Treasurer Mr Aziz Chacha said, “Through the Jasiri Bond, we hope to further address some of the challenges women entrepreneurs face in Tanzania such as access to finance while creating a new asset class for investors who want to help create sustainable solutions to women economic empowerment.”

He said this bond provided opportunity to retail investors to invest in bonds in lower denomination, diversify their investments and trade in the bonds market thus providing needed inclusion and access using the bank’s easily accessible network.

He said as of December last year proceeds of this bond have been fully allocated to bring much-needed financing to over 3,000 women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Tanzania; hence addressing SDGs 5, and 10, on economic empowerment of women, and reduction of inequalities, in line with the bank’s commitment to drive inclusive growth and shared prosperity.

NMB Jasiri Bond which was issued in March last year and later listed at our Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange in April 2022, mobilised 32 million US dollars through an oversubscription of 197 per cent.

In a special two-part Ring the Bell ceremony which saw the launch of the Luxembourg Women in Finance Charter, the  LuxSE was also joined by representatives of NMB Bank to celebrate the display of the bank’s gender bond on the Luxembourg Green Exchange (LGX).

With the stated objective of bringing much-needed financing to women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Tanzania, this is the first ever gender bond issued in the East Africa Region.

The trailblasing issuance from NMB Bank was 197 per cent over-subscribed which shows great appetite for gender bonds and sets a new benchmark for the continent in developing financial instruments specifically targeting gender empowerment.

Luxembourg Minister for Finance Yuriko Backes, who officially announced the Luxembourg Women in Finance Charter during the International Women’s Day event, commented:

“This listing marks an important milestone for global efforts to promote gender finance and underlines the Luxembourg Stock Exchange’s pioneering role in helping to drive new and emerging sustainable financial products.

By directing capital towards initiatives that empower women and advance their participation in the economy, the financial sector can thus support the unlocking of new opportunities for growth and innovation to help build a more equitable and sustainable future for all.”

Empowering Tanzania’s female entrepreneurs

The proceeds of the social bond is expected to provide to over 2,000 women in Tanzania with access to the necessary financing to start or grow their business.

By dedicating 100 per cent of its proceed to such projects, NMB’s gender bond will allow many women in Tanzania to enjoy financial independence and build a future for themselves, their families and communities.

“It is an honour to welcome this inaugural gender bond from NMB Bank to LuxSE.

Through this pioneering bond issuance, NMB Bank provides female entrepreneurs in Tanzania with the opportunity to contribute to the socioeconomic development of their communities.

This bond is a perfect illustration of the importance of women’s economic empowerment and the positive impact of gender finance,” stated CEO of LuxSE Julie Becker, and added “At LuxSE, we see it as our duty to give issuers such as NMB Bank a pathway to international capital markets so that we can encourage other issuers to raise financing for women’s empowerment while also providing the visibility needed for investors to access these gender-focused investment opportunities more easily,”

Leading the way in gender finance also known as NMB Bank’s Jasiri bond – meaning brave in Swahili – the bond was issued under the bank’s Social Bond Framework which is aligned with the International Capital Market Association’s Social Bond Principles.

In line with NMB Bank’s mission of “delivering human development and social inclusion”, per its Social Bond Framework, this important gender bond contributes directly to UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

Embracing equality through finance

In May last year, LuxSE entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with UN Women in which the two institutions committed to joining forces to advance gender finance and gender-lens investing.

As part of its commitments, LuxSE established a gender-focused bond flag on LGX, which highlights debt securities listed on LuxSE and displayed on LGX which raise financing for projects advancing gender equality.

With the display of NMB’s gender bond, LGX now counts almost 50 social, sustainability and sustainability-linked gender-focused bonds, which all contribute to empowering women and girls around the world.

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