December 13, 2019
Investment vehicle will support women’s economic empowerment in Ecuador
WASHINGTON – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has issued the first-ever 2X Certificate of Participation (COP), representing the first U.S. Government-backed investment vehicle marketed to investors to support women’s economic empowerment in emerging markets.
“This issuance hits at the very core of OPIC’s work: leveraging new and innovative financial tools to empower the world’s women,” said OPIC Managing Director for Global Women’s Issues Kathryn Kaufman. “We are extremely proud of this milestone and are motivated by the growing demand for investments that achieve a solid financial return while delivering tangible social impact.”
The issuance proceeds will fund OPIC’s $100 million loan to Banco Pichincha, which was committed alongside $8.5 million in financing from Wells Fargo Bank. This financing will enable Banco Pichincha to expand lending for micro, small, and medium enterprises owned by women in Ecuador. The loan—100 percent of which will go to women—is expected to reach more than 53,000 female entrepreneurs in the first five years of the project.
“Wells Fargo is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business,” said April Frazer, Managing Director, Head of Banks at Wells Fargo. “As part of that commitment, we are pleased to collaborate with OPIC and Banco Pichincha to address the gap in access to credit faced by women-owned, led, and managed businesses and advance gender equality in emerging economies.”
COPs are issued by OPIC in the U.S. fixed income debt capital markets to fund some of the agency’s lending activities. As the placement agent for the OPIC transaction, Wells Fargo managed the sale and pricing of the $100 million 2X COP.
The 2X COP is underpinned by the 2X Criteria, standards developed by OPIC and peer development finance institutions to measure gender-smart investments. The metrics have since been adopted by financial institutions across the globe. Most recently, the European Investment Bank (EIB) became the first multilateral development bank to endorse the criteria.
Through the issuance of the first 2X COP, the U.S. Government joins leading financial institutions in offering gender-smart securities such as “gender bonds,” an asset class which has drawn increased interest in the capital markets as an investment that generates both social and financial returns. OPIC will continue to identify additional opportunities to offer 2X COPs in support of projects that benefit women.
The issuance furthers OPIC’s leadership in leveraging finance to empower the world’s women. Since launching its 2X Women’s Initiative, OPIC has catalyzed more than $1 billion of investment in businesses and funds owned by, led by, or supporting women in the developing world. The agency has also encouraged global counterparts to accept the 2X Challenge and set a global standard for gender-lens investing through the 2X Criteria.
OPIC’s commitment to global women’s economic empowerment supports the Administration’s broader Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP)—a whole-of-government approach to unlocking the enormous opportunity the world’s women represent.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining U.S. Government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. Established in 1971, OPIC provides businesses with the tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity fund managers.
OPIC services are available to new and expanding businesses planning to invest in more than 160 countries worldwide. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers. All OPIC projects must adhere to best international practices and cannot cause job loss in the United States.