FMDQ Group, FSD Africa help bridge gender finance gap in Africa

FMDQ Group Plc and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa – the Implementing Partners of the Nigerian Green Bond Market Development Programme (the Programme) – organised a two-day event in Lagos, to introduce the concept of gender bonds to key market players within the Nigeria financial markets space. The event examined the state of gender equality in Nigeria and discussed the opportunities for Nigerian issuers and investors to use gender-sensitive/intentional approaches in bridging the gender finance gap in Nigeria. Also, it afforded potential issuers an opportunity to learn from the Tanzanian experience in navigating the issuance process of a gender bond.

External shocks such as pandemics, climatic disruptions, and economic downturns, have continuously had adverse impacts on humanity, with vulnerable groups, such as women, and their businesses being badly hit. Consequently, financial market players globally, as well as in Africa, are now empowering women and expanding their access to finance and economic inclusion through a debt market instrument that seeks to support the advancement and equality of women – the gender bond. Although at its emerging stage, understanding the gender bond framework for Nigeria’s debt market can play a crucial role in supporting the efforts to attain the United Nations (UN)’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 and 10 – Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities, respectively.

In attendance at the event were Ben Llewellyn-Jones OBE, Deputy High Commissioner, British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, Beatrice Eyong, United Nations Women Country Representative to Nigeria, Bola Onadele. Koko, Chief Executive Officer, FMDQ Group Plc, Ruth Zaipuna, Chief Executive Officer, NMB Bank Plc, Mary Njuguna, Principal Specialist, Capital Markets, FSD Africa, as well as other market stakeholders.

The first day featured a Breakfast Session for C-Suite Executives and highlighted the impact sustainable finance can have in driving women’s economic empowerment, as well as increased participants’ knowledge and awareness of gender bonds.
Welcoming participants to the event, Bola Onadele. Koko, Chief Executive Officer, of FMDQ Group Plc gave a broad overview of the Programme’s achievements from its inception in 2018 till date in the areas of policy advisory, technical support for green bond issuances, and market capacity building. He challenged everyone within their individual areas of expertise to be encouraged by the progress of the Programme as it relates to green bonds and similarly, push the envelope with gender bonds as we continue to develop and entrench the principles of sustainability in the Nigerian capital markets whilst facilitating prosperity for all.

The Breakfast Session featured a panel discussion themed, “The Role of Financial Markets in Strengthening Gender Financing in Nigeria”, with panellists including the Chief Executive Officer of NMB Bank Plc of Tanzania, a representative of British International Investment PLC, an Associate Director of PwC Nigeria, a representative of FMDQ Securities Exchange Limited, a Deputy Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria, and the Gender Network Manager, FSD Africa.

The panellists established the business case for investing in women-owned/led businesses, women-focused initiatives and the urgency for closing the $ 42 billion gender financing gap in Africa. Also, the panellists reiterated the importance of leveraging sustainable and innovative financial instruments such as gender bonds in financing women-owned/led businesses.

The second day presented a Masterclass which featured a deep dive into the modalities surrounding the issuance of NMB Bank Plc’s first gender bond in Tanzania (Jasiri Bond). The Treasurer of NMB Bank Plc, during his session, stirred the zeal of potential issuers to the impact of women empowerment through a gender bond as he shared the stories of the beneficiaries of the NMB Bank Plc’s Jasiri Bond.

According to Sustainalytics, a global leader in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) research, and a technical partner for the gender bond awareness sessions, the key steps required for a gender bond issuance include the development of a framework, disclosure of information to an external reviewer, documentation of a second opinion, development of a pre-issuance report, and annual documentation of the impact of the gender bond.

The event ended with the Implementing Partners of the Programme reiterating their commitment to support institutions willing to bridge the gender finance gap, as well as other sustainable financing gaps in Nigeria, through financial instruments like sustainable or sustainability-linked bonds that is, gender bonds, green bonds, blue bonds, social bonds, and others. The Programme was launched in 2018 to create awareness and education on green finance, whilst serving as the primary vehicle to explore and implement initiatives geared towards accelerating the development of the Nigerian Green Bond Market and supporting broader debt market reforms that impact green bonds, through its Implementing Partners, FMDQ Group and FSD Africa.

Read original article