DFC Drives Gender Investment in Capital Markets, Helps Launch World’s First Orange Bond

Media Release


WASHINGTON – A loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) helped launch the world’s first Orange Bond, IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond 5 (WLB5). Named after the color of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality, Orange Bonds are a new asset class focused on gender-inclusive financing. WLB5 is the fifth bond issued in IIX’s award-winning bond series; it will invest in small businesses that empower women in emerging markets across Asia and Africa. As an Orange Bond, WLB5 adheres to proven gender-lens investing methods with high standards for capital allocation to women, diversity in leadership, and transparency in both investing and reporting.

“DFC’s support for the Women’s Livelihood Bond 5, the world’s first Orange Bond, illustrates the United States’ commitment to advancing gender equity in emerging markets,” said DFC COO Agnes Dasewicz. “The Orange Bond Initiative will advance gender lens investing in developing countries, and DFC continues to work to support the development of this new asset class.”

Gender inequality is one of the greatest challenges facing developing countries today. The gap in financing for women-owned small businesses worldwide is estimated at $300 billion, and an estimated more than 70 percent of women-owned small and medium businesses have no access or inadequate access to financial services. With DFC support, IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond SeriesTM and the new Orange Bond InitiativeTM seek to close this financing gap, boosting economic growth and gender equity in emerging markets around the world.

To support WLB5, DFC committed $10 million in the IIX Women’s Catalyst Fund, a debt investment vehicle created to support the Women’s Livelihood Bond series and help lower risk for private sector investors. DFC is also supporting this groundbreaking bond with a partial credit guaranty on underlying loans extended with the bond proceeds.

DFC is committed to supporting women’s economic empowerment through its 2X Women’s Initiative, launched in 2018. Through its role in the Orange Bond InitiativeTM, the agency is also helping lead efforts in the global investment community to close the gender financing gap in emerging markets. DFC serves on the steering committee that devised the Orange Bond Principles, published by IIX in October 2022, which lay out the criteria for an issuance to qualify as an Orange Bond.


U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.