Taiwan and the US have teamed up to take part in the Women’s Livelihood Bond 3 (WLB3) initiative — a collaboration that American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen yesterday touted as “a testament to the United States’ and Taiwan’s commitment to the shared value of promoting women’s development and prosperity.”
The partnership was announced at a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Executive Yuan Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) and International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) Secretary-General Timothy Hsiang (項恬毅) joining Christensen.
Created by the Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), the Women’s Livelihood Bond Series is a series of debt securities to empower women in Southeast Asia by creating sustainable livelihoods, officials said at the event.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
WLB3 — the third tranche in the US$150 million four-part initiative — would assist 175,000 to 185,000 female entrepreneurs and socioeconomically disadvantaged women in Indonesia, India, Cambodia and the Philippines by financing loans, marketing and production and living expenses, they said.
Taiwan is participating in the WLB3 as a responsible member of the international community, and to reinforce ties in the region and bolster the government’s New Southbound Policy, as well as strategic cooperation with the US in the Indo-Pacific region, Wu said.
“The US-Taiwan collaboration on the Women’s Livelihood Bond builds upon our existing cooperation on several successful platforms and initiatives, such as the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit, and our collaboration in APEC,” Christensen said.
“We often describe our relationship with Taiwan with the phrase: ‘Real friends, real progress — zhen pengyou, zhen jinzhan (真朋友，真進展). But this is not just about advancing US-Taiwan ties. It is about like-minded partners standing together to promote common values and shared interests,” he said.
“We are proud to stand with Taiwan and other like-minded partners to promote, support and foster women’s economic empowerment around the world,” he said.
The WLB series exemplifies the new international paradigm of seeing public-private collaboration as a more powerful form of aid to developing countries, Deng said.
WLB3 demonstrates the results of Taiwan-US Infrastructure Finance Framework and Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, he added.
Hsiang hailed WLB3 as a landmark case in the fund’s utilization of innovative financial instruments, adding that the initiative aims to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, WLB3 microfinancing would encourage female entrepreneurs to engage in domestic manufacturing that breaks the cycle of poverty and fosters economic resilience, he said.
As Taiwanese private investors have yet to take part in the WLB3, the ICDF is inviting them to consider purchasing WLB Series securities, he said.
The ICDF last month signed an agreement with IIX to contribute US$3 million to WLB3’s US$27.7 million debt securities, which closed on Thursday, officials said.
WLB1 raised US$8.5 million, while WLB2 raised US$12 million, they said, adding that the US International Development Finance Corp were among the investors, while Australia provided technical support.
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